Archive | 1980

Notes from Japan: From Country Zen to Urban Tokyo – Help!

Tokyo, Japan. It wasn’t America; it wasn’t France or Germany, either.   And although its most famous city, it just wasn’t Japan.   In retrospect, I’m not exactly sure what Tokyo was except different.   Of course, living in remote Japan one hears of Tokyo continuously, yet a clear picture of this all encompassing word fails to emerge.   [...]

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Notes from Japan: Living with a Former Samurai Family

Morioka, Japan. The Ueda family, although not particularly representative of that which is ”˜typical,’ does represent a very old and important segment of Japanese society.   Like those brave men so graphically described in James Clavell’s Shogun, the Ueda’s ancestors were Samurai; knights of the ancient war lords of Nippon. Living totally on the estate awarded [...]

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Notes from Japan: Japanese, English Language Far Apart

Morioka, Japan. There are many reasons why foreign language programs in Japan are, in the words of former ambassador Edwin Reischauer, ”˜extraordinarily poor.’   Domestic politics, the educational system and the Japanese language itself all contribute to the barriers that keep English from being mastered in this increasingly powerful nation. This academic failing is a grave [...]

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In Japan: Fat Gaijin (Me!) Races 500 Junior High Students

Morioka, Japan. l thought was going to die.   My legs were numb, my lungs were bursting; l expected at any moment to succumb to heart attack.   In self-pity, looked back at how easy my life had been only ten minutes before.   Then, pacing cockily to and fro along the starting line, I had displayed my [...]

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Notes from Japan: Hitchhiking Thru the Storm to Hokkaido

Iwate Province, Japan. Hitchhiking in Japan can be an adventure; with two companions and three backpacks in pouring rain it is that and much more.   Leaving the village of Tanohata under gloomy skies, two other students and l began hitchhiking north.   Our destination: Sapporo. We had hoped to make it to the northern tip of [...]

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Notes from Japan: Shinomori – Woods Meditation

Iwate Province, Japan. To those Americans who have experienced Shinomori, it is much more than a foreign sounding word.   It is the memories of the distant ocean as seen from the mountains, the smell of freshly cut brush, the satisfied feeling of achieved cross-cultural community. Working with the Waseda University Buddhist Association “Shinomori.” Shinomori, to [...]

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Notes from Japan: A Rural Village in Iwate Province

Tanohata, Japan. If you have a map of Japan, chances are that Tanohata-mura is not on it. Tanohata is not on many maps. Lying northeast of Morioka, the capital of lwate Province, Tanohata hugs the coast of the Pacific and travels up the cliffs that overlook it.   Similar to Columbus, Ohio in latitude, the village [...]

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