Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Best Laid Plans

Often Go Awry.

Why even plan, I sometimes wonder.

This week is Obon, which is essentially the Buddhist holiday used to celebrate and worship one's ancestors.  For the students I work with, it meant four whole days off of school.  I wasn't going to take the days - I had grand plans to spend the time learning Japanese (I haven't touched it really since my sister came to visit) and to work on my Virginia research.  However, I just haven't gotten around to it.  This is how Obon has gone for me instead:

- A subway trip up to the northern part of Sendai city.

I wandered around a bit and found the Sendai Science Museum so I stopped to investigate.   As far as museums go, this one was perfect for hands-on learning for people of all ages.  They really did a good job to include a variety of interests and levels of scientific understanding.
 Replica of the Bell X-1
 Wankel (rotary) engine
 Learn to identify rocks by their streaks
 The view of the Dainohara Park from the stairs of the Science Museum
 A walk through the park
 This is the path I was directed down to get to the Sendai Literature Museum.  The trail twisted through the woods until it reached the museum.  It was a glorious walk even if the museum was already closed  by the time I reached it. 

- A short train ride over to the coastal town of Matsushima.

I had hoped to attend the fireworks here since I missed the ones for Tanabata in Sendai.  But the fireworks were not being shown until Wednesday which already had three scheduling conflicts.

Looking out at sea, you can see a number of islands.  The Matsushima area actually has a few hundred islands.  During the earthquake and tsunami, those outward islands protected Matsushima and left the town unharmed.  

 Matsushima is a sacred area.  There were a number of temple and a long time ago, I think even the rocks were cut out to provide rooms and areas for worship, which you can see behind the statue above. 
 Matsushima actually means 'Pine Tree Island' and, true to its name, there were trees everywhere.  The air smelled like salt water and pine sap.  
I love this picture of this couple even if it was accidental.  This is the path to the temples.  

- Long bus ride to Shinjuku, short subway ride to Ebisu, short metro ride to Hiroo, short walk to the temple.

Practically tripping over the entry onto the subway and apologizing to all the people around me on an already crowded and full train, I looked up to see the above picture at eye level.  I smiled, "Well, hello there, Hasebe."  It was like an old friend was greeting me, except well, he didn't smile; he just smoldered. (Really, if I didn't know who it was, I don't know if I would recognize him - he doesn't quite look like himself)

 The Temple.  I participated in initiatories entirely in Japanese.  For the endowment session, I alternated between Japanese, Chinese and English.  If I am not confusing my brain, it's certainly not for lack of trying.  
House of the Lord; Holiness to the Lord

The Tokyo Temple felt like a home.  Am I allowed to say that?  When I walked into the Celestial Room, I felt like I was walking into a living room.  It was so comfortable and homey.  

I love this shot.  Kind of amazing that I managed this with a phone camera and zero editing.  

I missed the Japanese National Team game.  I missed English class and meeting Boku from Shanghai.  I missed the fireworks in Matsushima.  (you know, those scheduling conflicts?  Why all on Wednesday?)  But I still think it's been a pretty fabulous few days.  

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