Sunday, March 3, 2013

Love from Tokyo

Our train made it to port at approximately 8:30pm Friday evening. By the time we surfaced from the chaotic waters of Asakusa Station, it was more like 8:35pm--we had 25 minutes to make it to our hostel before they locked the doors on weary, late-arriving travelers. It was raining. We did not bring an umbrella.

Doug took the lead dashing towards green-lit men signaling our crossing. We splashed past familiar torii and made our way down dark closing alleys. Shop keepers turned out lights and pulled down garage doors while we stomped in puddles. Three right turns make a left.

We consulted our soggy map and it told us in a drunken stupor that we were not where we needed to be. Retracing our steps, cutting out the unnecessary (now) left turns, we were back at the station. 8:47pm.

Don't cross the red bridge, go down and cross the blue bridge. Crossed blue bridge. Take the right from the Mercedes Benz building. The immediate right or the far right? Far right. There will be a small liquor store on the left and Samurai will be the right. No liquor store. Revisit Mercedes, she's a nice gal after all. 8:55pm.

Lights are on 2 blocks down. The familiar Asahi vending machine clues us in. We look right and see foreign women wheeling their rolling suitcases, this must be it. Samurai warmly welcomed us. No longer being rained on. 8:58pm.

9:38pm, venturing out to find dinner, not raining. 9:49, fine as wine dining on street kababs. We love kebabs.

With no obligations until noon the next day, we slept incredibly well that night. Saturday brought sunshine, sunshine and wind. Oh my was it windy. We ventured out to climb the tallest tower in the land (world, actually, tallest tower in the world), Tokyo Skytree, sitting pretty at 634m. The wind said "no." Skytree was closed to its non-reserved audience. Maybe next time.

So we found an amazing playground instead where we could pretend to climb the tower and also go up spiral staircases and slide down on rolling bars.

This was the beginning of our weekend in Tokyo. We were visiting Sanichi Anglican Church to talk about our YASC program and to freshen up our Episcopal/Anglican liturgy. We met up with Rev. Seraphim Ken Takashi and he showed us around Ueno Park and the surrounding historical district. We walked down roads we never would have thought to walk down by ourselves. We saw really old houses and shops and Ken explained about how people like to keep potted plants and small gardens in the alleyways because they do not have room otherwise to grow plants. These were not your typical overflowing trashcanned and graffitied alleyways, they were really beautiful.

Ken took us out to lunch and showed us a really special time. While we were walking about we were even invited inside a home for a "tea ceremony." We were informed that this is not actually an accurate description or translation, so we just call it 茶の湯 chanoyu. This was a really unique experience, both for us and for Ken. To be invited inside off the street for tea like that was really special.

Rev. Ken!
That evening we met up with the Goto family. They graciously hosted us for, what we at ARI call, a "home-stay." We shared a lovely meal, which included both Japanese and Western dishes (meatloaf!), oishikatta. We are so grateful for their hospitality, thank you, thank you, thank you! Arigatou gozaimashita

Goto and Knight Families!
This morning we attended church and saw our friends, Sam and Michiko, who hosted us back in January when Katie and Kelly were with us. After the service, Doug gave a talk that we prepared about the YASC program and some of our reflections so far, you can read it here.
After church, we enjoyed curry udon noodles with other parishioners. This was only our third visit to Sanichi (first was back in October at the bazaar, second was in January with Katie and Kelly), but it felt very comfortable. Seeing people we had met before who remembered and welcomed us made us feel like we really belong. We hope to visit at least once if not more before August, we really just had the best time with the Sanichi community. 

Sam later guided us to a bookstore where I was able to pick up a Japanese copy of Life of Pi, Tora to Shonan (tiger and boy) for Nishi. I was reading the English copy that we have here at the ARI library and Nishi was really interested to know how it ended, but I didn't want to spill, she will have to read for herself! (Japanese characters make this cover look infinitely more interesting than it already is!)

Just a few quick things before we sign off for the week: 1) next Saturday is a community event with a local high school. We will make and eat udon noodles with students and then go on a snow-shoe hike! After the event, Doug and I will head to the airport to fly to Thailand. We are not sure of the internet situation but we hope to get a blog post up at some point, 2) the first round of participants will arrive on the 25th! This is just three weeks away! They will be spending their last couple of weeks with their families and preparing for their time here at ARI, while also waiting patiently for their visas! Please keep them in your prayers, 3) The change of the month as kicked Doug out of the kitchen and into the pig pen. Instead of cooking breakfast and dinner for impatient people, he will be mixing breakfast and dinner for impatient porcine. And I have said "bye, for now" to my piggie friends and am reunited with the poultry. Katietwin, I need you.

Thanks for reading! *Love from Tokyo*

Doug and Jenny

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