In Korea Desi Springer and I spent most of their time outside of the classroom eating Bibimbap and Kimchi at wonderful restaurants, and walking the streets of Seoul. The Sridaiva hosts were tremendously gracious and hospitable, and treated Desi and me with deep kindness and respect throughout each day.
In Tokyo, Desi and I attended the Shinto Temples of Gokokuji and Meiji, and met with head priests including Reverend Eiji Okamoto. We also took a Soto Zen meditation lesson at a Zen Center (www.global.sotozen-net), where dynamic posture is an art of life.
A 3-play performance at Tokyo’s main Kabuki theatre presented the beauty of movement, posture, voice, and some of the essential Japanese values – honor for the collective, artistic approximation of the perfection of Nature, harmony in life, and power of Spirit and love.
In Kyoto, we stayed at the Buddhist monastery (Higashi Honganji) and joined the morning prayer sessions with the Shingon monks, including the 94-year old head priest, who led the chanting of mantras and the prayer offerings to the fire at the front of the temple. Other Zen temples in Kyoto that are most notable include: Kinkaku-ji temple (Golden temple), Ryoan-ji temple (rock garden), and the Kennin-ji Temple (oldest Zen temple in Kyoto).
Walking through the shogan's palace – Nijo Castle in Kyoto tests one’s lightness of step on wooden floorboards that are designed to chirp like a nightingale with every step, so intruders (ninjas) would be heard before entering the inner rooms of the Shogan’s residence.
In Osaka, the populace was warm and friendly, and we enjoyed their company and vegetarian meals very much. People on the street of Osaka appeared fuller bodied and more muscular compared to the people of Tokyo. This is a fascinating difference between the general body form of the citizens of Japan’s two most populated metropolitan areas, only 250 miles apart. It is common knowledge that there is significant cultural difference between Osaka and Tokyo, including distinctive dialect and overall attitudinal traits. Thin, soft tone, young people in Tokyo compose a large portion of the girls (under 19 years old in Japan) emulating baby dolls with bobby socks, high heels, frilly shirts and bows in their hair, and of young men emulating glamorous boy-band pop stars.