In Kyoto.

Just landed in Kyoto and this computer is in the dining room of the Hostel where I have a room for four nights. Thankfully there is not a que behind me to use the computer so I have taken this opportunity to catch up with email and to check the Blogger. As it is late I’ll not attempt to write in detail but just give you the event that stands out in my mind for each day since last writing.

Raigakuji, Koho Zenji’s temple. Eating dinner informally in the temple kitchen with Misawa Roshi who revealed the year of his birth. Iain and I spent the next ten minutes doing silent mental arithmatic and both coming to the conclusion that he had to have made a mistake. He looked at least 20 years younger. We did a memorial for Koho Zenji at his grave marker both in Japanese and then in English.

Yokoji, the temple where Koho Zenji was ordained and at one time was Abbot, the 512th! For Iain seeing Keizans grave, yes Keizan died here at this temple. For me, gulp, it was celebrating morning service chanted in Japanese. That came about by my saying ‘yes’ to what I thought was an invitation to join the lone priest for morning service, only to find him advancing on me hold a lotus sceptre. A great big long red one and there was no turning back! Iain said afterwards ‘I’ll never forget that’, and nor will I. I can only say ‘I did my best’. We did a memorial for Koho Zenji here too.

Eiheiji, founded by Dogen Zenji and one of the two main training temples in the Soto Zen Sect. Let’s see…having tea with Matsunaga Roshi after evening meditation rounded off a day on trains, five of them. The joy and serenity that eminated from him was awesome. And for Iain? ‘The warmth of the welcome we discovered there’. Morning service, in the presence of 330 trainees was ‘big’ really big and then being led up to offer incense in memory of Dogen Zenji was beyond words.

And then there was the adventure into the mountains to visit Hokoji a temple established by a contemporary of Dogen Zenji. Poor yet happy monks, eleven of them. More on all of this another day.

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Attention to Detail.

While transferring trains this morning I had a cup of tea ‘to go’ on a station platform. The teabag label was stuck down with scotch tape to the side of the cup so it wouldn’t fall into the liquid, the way it invariably does. And, if that wasn’t enough, there was a small sticker over the hole one drinks from so that the heat wouldn’t escape. In Japanese, the label carried a reminder that the liquid inside was very hot. It was!

For a Briton, this is all good news.

Created on Chino Railway Station in a public access Internet room. That’s approx. 50p an hour or 80c USD

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Rev. Okabe

At Fukuji-in we met Okabe Roshi, who had served as Keido Chisan Koho Zenji’s chaplain for many years, including the time when Rev. Master Jiyu was serving as his junior chaplain. Here, left to right, are Prof. Shimizu, Okabe Roshi, myself and Noguchi Roshi. Reverend Okabe is my Dharma uncle and Reverend Noguchi a Dharma cousin It certainly felt like being with family while visiting at this small temple as we were able to meet in an informal way.

This was the last visit on a very full day. First Sojiji in the morning where we met Oyama Roshi a senior lecturer who had visited Shasta Abbey in 1979 and remembered Rev. Master Jiyu, I could write pages on that visit alone. Then there was the memorable Japanese lunch and then the time with these wonderful monks. Noguchi Roshi did much to make arrangements for a stay at a temple while we are traveling this next week and asked if we would come back on May 1st, ‘for more talking’ as he put it. We will be there.

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Fukuji-in

In the afternoon we visited Fukuji-in with Professor Shimizu. This is a small temple in the Asakusa area of Tokyo where Keido Chisan Koho Zenji was resident priest during World War 2 – when the original temple was destroyed in 1945 – and which he worked to rebuild.

At Fukuji-in we met the present resident priest – Rev. Noguchi – and together we held a short service at Keido Chisan’s memorial tablet in the cemetery, which was just a short hop across the road. We did a second memorial for Koho Zenji’ mother and parents of Professor Shimizu. Fukuju-in is Professor Shimizu’s family temple.

 

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Professor Shimizu

On Friday we enjoyed a Japanese-style lunch offered by Prof. Shimizu, Keido Chisan Koho Zenji’s grand-niece. She recently retired from a university career as a physicist researching and teaching quantum optics. We all really enjoyed her company and appreciated her generosity.

Over lunch she shared some of her presonal childhood memories of her great-uncle with us, and how he encouraged her in her studies. She mentioned that he had instilled into her the importance of education for woman and this in turn influenced her in her professional life as a teacher.

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Practice Within The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives