Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Bit of Japan in Canada

Once upon a time Jeanie and Rick went to Japan.

Rick had been many times before and on his first visit he had met Yuka. She taught English in a Japanese school and she was a wonderful host who introduced us to Kamakura on my first full day in that beautiful country.

The Daibutsu (Big Buddha) was one of my favorite stops on the vacation. As one walked toward it, towering over everyone, the only word that applies is awe inspiring.

We could go within the stone body, but first had to wash our hands at an altar outside. And we also say many bits of paper with prayers and wishes written on them, left for the Daibutsu.

After returning home, I wrote this poem for Rick.


We stood in the shadow of the
Big Buddha
And felt very small.

Such a tiny part of history are we
Compared to the one who has
Been here for centuries.

We wash our hands,
For we must be clean
And pure
To honor Daibutsu.
And incense hangs in the air
Like a pungent, fragrant mist.

Inside Daibutsu, it is cool.
Almost dark.
And yet, when we touch
The stone wall,
It is warm, from the morning sun.

We are so young
And all we hold dear is almost
As young as we.
But Diabutsu knows more.
Has seen more.
And still, he stands.

It was an extraordinarily spirtual experience.

I never forgot Yuka or her kindness. Or the wonderful dinner we shared with friends old (to Rick) and new (to me) where I had my first -- and last -- raw quail egg, along with a feast of other divine foods, all new, the flavors of which were enhanced by the warmth of the conversation, even though I really couldn't understand very much of it. I didn't have to. The smiles said it all!

So, when we learned Yuka would be in Windsor, Canada, at the time we were returning home from Myrtle Beach, we knew we had to visit!

We crossed over the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit and easily found the house where Yuka and several other teachers were staying while they tended to high school students visiting Canada.

It was a wonderful reunion, with the exchange of omiage (gifts from our countries), and lots of photos. (This is Yuka.)

Tomoki-san, the art teacher, shared his work. This is one of his watercolor sketches; the postcards of his works on paper are amazing.

While Rick and I caught up with Yuka and spoke with Naoki-san, who managed the tour, Tomoki, Akiko-san (the biology teacher) and Manami-san (a first year English teacher) made dinner.

We adore Japanese food and it's even better when prepared authentically! We enjoyed somen noodles, miso soup, fresh corn and okonomiaki, which is like an egg-pancake.

Of course, we had to show them our art-kid Greg's blog and the Marmelade Gypsy!

After dinner, we walked across the street to take some farewell photos.

With the Ambassador Bridge in the background and the sun behaving perfectly, it was like having a backdrop just for us!

On a lovely cool evening, just looking across the river at the Detroit skyline in the background was a perfect way to end the evening.

And so, we say goodbye to Canada, goodbye to Yuka and new friends, and goodbye to vacation!

(Coming soon! A kindred spirit I never knew I had!)


  1. How coincidental things can be.....imagine meeting your friends from Japan in Ontario! I don't hink I would care for Japanese cuisine though. It sounds like you travel a lot...lucky you!! Wonderful pics of the bridge.

  2. Cho beri kuru! as they say in Japan, a combination of Cho - meaning Extreme- and the Japanese pronunciation of Very and Cool. That expression was all the rage during your visit there and it may still be in common use. Maybe not as teens (they used it the most) don't want to be seen as fuddy-duddy 20 somethings.

    Wish I could have been there. Is that the Apple Restaurant in Chigasaki in one of the pictures? It sure looks like it. A very quaint and friendly restaurant, popular with the locals but unknown to the outside world. If you got in, you were a very honored guest!

  3. Good gosh! I feel like it's only been a few days since I was still looking at Paris, but obviously I've been derelict here! You've been on the move, and there are beaches and photos and books and films and cultures and people and cooking and.....

    Phew! I'd better strap on my reading glasses and get going! I'm particularly interested in this post because I'm going to take on Dolce Belleza's Japanese Reading Challenge - just don't know which books yet.

    By the way - don't ever come to Texas for the beaches unless you're heading to Matagorda or south, especially South Padre. Up here, because of all the rivers and the shallowness of the water, we've got brown sand and brown water. Just don't ever do it if you have a choice ;-)

  4. Ha Shoreacres must live in Houston! (where I am) Great pictures! Great you got to see your friends again...

  5. What a lovely last stop. It sounds like a grand visit.

  6. Wow. What a wonderful time. Canada is full of surprises (don't you just love living so close to the border?)

  7. What great good fortune that you were able to see these friends when you returned from the beach? I mean, how many people can make an international connection, boom, just like that? Wonderful. Loved the pictures of the buddha, first of all. The peace and calm of the statue is impressive. I was surpised to hear you could go inside - very cool. And your poem to Rick following the experience is a treat. You are such a wonderful gift-giver.
    I have not traveled (yet) to Japan. I cannot imagine. Except that I already know I would love it.
    This was grand. Really, I could go for some of that egg pancake right now!

  8. The photos of the Buddha are great - there is something very spiritual and peaceful about the statue. You lucky thing - all the traveling you do - it is a good life for some :)

  9. ooo Jeanie, I am so touched by your Buddha inspired poem, truly beautiful and Buddha's hands = WOW!!! Lucky you being able to visit Japan (it's on my bucket list)
    So sweet to reunite with special friends, Loved the pictures!

    ~*~ Patty

  10. I love Small World stories like this!

  11. I know I've said it before, Jeanie, but you have most wonderful adventures!

    Love the poem!

  12. That first image is so beautiful. There really is nothing like travel, is there?


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