Last Day in Kyoto

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.

Wendy

Wendy and sister Moe

Wendy and sister Moe

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.

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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.

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Maruyama Park, Kyoto

In the center of Kyoto, inspiring natives and tourists alike with the beauty of nature and dotted with Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines, lays Maruyama Park. It is Kyoto’s version of New York City’s Central Park. Wendy and I walk regularly at home in Healdsburg. More than 45 years ago Wendy lived in Kyoto. One of my favorite mornings of the trip was when she took me to this park, early one morning, prior to the onset of tourists — when the park was quiet and only the sound of drum beats and a gentle wind could be heard. We walked for what seemed to be forever, passing nuns and ancient cemeteries and blossoming trees and flowers of all kinds, shapes, and colors. It was magical to be here in the quiet hours of daybreak. IMG_4901 IMG_4906 IMG_4914Maruyama Park was deserted and overgrown with shrubs and weeds until three hundred years ago. In 1886, it was designated as a park site at which time it was enlarged. In 1913, it was professionally designed by Jihei Ogawa, a landscape gardener who had previously designed the well-known gardens of Heian Shrine and Murin-an. We were told that it was a typical Japanese park especially noted for its big dropping cheery trees and various other varieties of these trees. To stroll through this park relatively alone at the height of cherry blossom season provides a memory to be cherished.IMG_4930 IMG_4931 IMG_4894IMG_4910