Monday, August 6, 2007

On to Tokyo

Last night was our Farewell dinner. An evening enjoyed by all. With song and good food, memories and plans. The beginning of the trip seems so far away now. So much has been experienced. Today will be Shinkansen to Tokyo, an over night mad rush to cram in the last of Japan then home to San Jose. To family and friends. To remembering and sharing memories.

Peace Day

On the green plaza we gathered, people from around the world, to hear of the horror of an atomic bomb and to hear words of peace and hope. The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only people on earth to experience the devastation of an atomic bomb. And the memory they hold is slipping away. They know, more than anyone, the need to stop war. We hear the words. We must do the work. May peace prevail.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Last Day in Okayama

Our last full day in Okayama. What a fun day it was.

We began with rehearsals for our final performance. Rehearsals were in an Okayama city building that was built to provide space for workshops and activities. There are no offices just rooms for activities. We practiced in the ping pong practice room. Acoustics were great. Choir sounded great. Now they were warmed up and ready to go.

Lunch was in the in either of two shopping areas. After lunch we went across the street to the Santa Hall. We were the first of several performances. So we had to be on time and time was limited to twenty minutes. There was a bit of a panic when we were ten minutes to curtain and our choir was on the seventh floor of the building. Everybody came down ok and the performance went off without a hitch. Choir did great.

After the performance, we changed and got ready for Uraja. Still not sure what uraja is but it was fun. We were one of several teams of dancers. Many of the teams are from schools or groups or friends who get together. They have costumes and face paintings. Every one in our group had our face painted by the team that taught us how to uraja and lead us through an arcade of Okayama. Its was a lot of fun.

The arcade is lined with crowds of people. Each team of dancers follows a truck blaring the music and singing. As the music begins the team follows the truck the drives through the arcade. Our team was announced as visitors from San Jose, California. With 72 members in our group we were one of the largest. We were told that today was not the main festival and that tomorrow would be larger.

Great fun!!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Morning After

Apparently the storm did not cause as much disruption as anticipated. Last night it was pretty windy outside, but most of that seems to have subsided. Soon I'll venture out for some breakfast.

The Granvia Hotel is connected to a large underground mall, the train station and Takashimaya department store. You could, except for the walk from the door of the hotel to the stairs down, not go outside at all.

I have not been to the station yet, but I've walked around Takashimaya and the mall. Found a tasty ramen shop in the mall. When I was there the chef, su chef and server were women.

Had a delightful meal last night finish with one of my food goals; a parfait. It was maccha flavored. It had little dango, chunks of chocolate and fruit on the bottom.

I've been told that the Starbucks green tea is must taste.

So many foods so little time..


I've always wanted to use the typhoon in a sentence.

The weather is becoming a concern. Fortunately all we’ve seen so far is increased wind. We’re safe in the hotel and we don’t have to go out if the storm arrives. Its most probable track wil bring it close to Okayama city around midnight.

Tomorrow is an optional trip to Kurashiki. Hope the typhoon will have passed by then.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Trip to Nara

Nara is about an hour by train from Kyoto. The train traveled throguh busy towns and fields of rice. The land seems to be constantly changing from rual to urban. Houses and shops fill impossible spaces.

Nara was once the capital of Japan. Before Kyoto and before Tokyo it held the power of the Emperor.

Todaiji is a part of many temples and shrines to cover an enormous area. The Kasuga shrine is only one of those shrines. Each has its own history and cultrual importance.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Everyone's Here

Everyone arrived safely and in good shape.

First day here was spent visiting sites. Part of the group went to Movieland and Osaka Pokemon, the rest of the group went to 6:00 service at the Honzan, Rokkakudo, Nishiki Market and then was joined by others for a trip to Fushimi Inari.

Yesterday was our visit to Honzan, audience with Gomonshu sama and our performance at the Mombokaikan. The performance was great. Well received. There was even a request for an encore. The choir obliged with "Ondokusan" and asked the audience to join in. There was a reported from the Hongwanji News and an article had already been prepared for publication in the Buddhist Music Newsletter.

The photos are not caption yet. Will add captions as soon as possible.

Today is the big trip to Nara. Will have more pictures to share.