Just a wee P.S….One of the things we enjoyed most about Japan was looking at the traditional, modern, creative and diverse fashion statements made by young and old, male and female. Here are some of our favorites.
In ending this Japanese segment of my mgprontheroad blog, I would like to thank my co-travelers for this extraordinary experience. The tone of these posts differs from my European posts, as traveling with eight other people kept me too busy to actually enter my day to day reflections. It was rewarding speaking about these daily experiences with each other. Let it suffice to say that nine more congenial people couldn’t have been found to share this adventure. Thank you Mei and John for including me, and Mei for the hours and hours of organization that made for a such a memorable trip.
On our last day, we decided to divide and conquer and spend our day either exploring new places or returning to places that touched our hearts. I shall begin with Wendy’s journey, as it began 46 years earlier. She and Ed set out to discover the convent where Wendy had rented a room 19 years ago, in hopes of finding Sister Moe who lived there when she did and was her “partner” in laughter and great fun. They did indeed find the convent, which is now renamed on a street which has also been renamed. Talk about when there is a will there is a way. The new nuns had just seen Sister Moe earlier that day, and knew that she was at a nearby hotel celebrating her 84th birthday. When Wendy and Ed found her, leaving the ballroom of her party, their reunion ended with Sister Moe saying, “We’ll save all our stories from these many years until we meet again in heaven.” Needless to say, there were lots of tears of joy and a contented nun who will undoubtedly always remember her 84h birthday, as will Wendy.
As for my day, I returned to Maruyama Park where I spent the day in meditation and gratitude for the life I am now living.
Our Last Supper was celebrated at Kikunoi Maruyama Kyoto — a three star Michelin restaurant that is tastefully designed within the Maruyama Park. The service and presentation were exquisite. As for a three star restaurant experience, so many of our meals were elegantly presented and prepared, so we were a tough crowd to please at this point. But it was lovely, and provided our group yet another magnificent venue in which to circle around the table sharing sentiments of extreme gratitude and love.
Our second to the last day in Kyoto was busy and full of adventure. It began at the great Todai-ji Temple, a national treasure first constructed in 710 -794 AD, which is known for its chief object of worship — a magnificent Vairocana Buddha (Buddha that shines throughout the world like the sun). The Buddha is 49’ tall, resting on a Lotus petal that stands 10’ tall. The Temple serves both as a place of peace and affluence on earth, as well as a center for Buddhist doctrinal research, which has produced many famous scholar priests. The statue of Vairocana Buddha is made from cast bronze and plated with gold. It has been damaged and repaired numerous times and the current rendition is 33% smaller than the original structure, yet still ranks as the largest wooden structure in the world. Seeing this Buddha was awe-inspiring to say the least.
Entering and leaving the Temple park, we were greeted by deer who only had eyes for John…
The afternoon was spent engaging in quite a different experience at the Ninja Museum. At first it was hard to imagine why this visit was included on our tour, until we heard the history of these nationally celebrated secret agents. Little did I know that our modern day Ninja is based on such an important cultural phenomenon. I’ll let the photos tell a thousand words about this adventure. For me the best part was seeing the Ninja house with secret doors and rooms and compartments where Ninjas could hide from the enemy and escape. Dinner was a traditional meal at Yamabuki Temple. Very elegant, subdued and offered a wonderful opportunity for us to recap our visit and gratitude in preparation for our last day in Kyoto.