Saturday, May 03, 2008


Two Temple Visits

I was lucky enough to go to the temple twice this year. We caught the wave of cherry blossoms as it moved north, and for the first time in my life, I saw mankai in Iwaki. I really didn't care that it rained a little bit in the morning. This first trip served two purposes: Gordon met some more family members, and we were able to celebrate the third year anniversary of my grandmother's death. The next anniversary won't be until seven years have passed, but I'm sure I'll be back to the temple before then.

Gordon also got to meet my grandfather, who very proudly wore his Drummond tartan scarf. Here we all are, posing inside the temple in front of the altar, with my beloved cousin, Masayoshi, in his priestly robes.

The main temple is actually going to be torn down, with a new one going up in its place. Construction starts this fall. Sempou, my mother's cousin (and current head priest), showed us a model of the new temple. He said that he chose this model because it had the fewest interior pillars, and there would consequently be fewer seats with obstructed viewing. He says that the standard temple interior these days has a lot of pillars, but these pillars don't actually serve any structural purpose and are mostly for show.

My cousin Masayoshi was married just last week--this was the reason for my second trip to the temple. The actual ceremony took place inside the main hall and was a Buddhist ceremony. This is fairly unusual in Japan--most weddings are Shinto or some kind of "chapel" wedding.

For some reason, I agreed to pose for this photo alongside the immaculately coifed bride. My hair was a complete disaster--and has been for the past, oh, month or so. Anyway. This photo isn't really about me, but about Megumi, who looks pretty fantastic. When Masayoshi saw her, he said: "Hey! You look Japanese!" She gave him a little bow. I am going to try that next time someone says something for which I have no response.

During the wedding ceremony, guests drank sake; I guess that is sort of like drinking wine in a Catholic ceremony. A number of priests came to assist with the actual wedding, and I have all those lovely candid shots of them, but am having problems resizing photos. So, more posts will probably take a little time to put up.

Let me just say that for some reason, I always manage to attract the drinkers in a group of people, and it didn't take long for a very tall, bear-of-a-priest to ask me to drink with him at the bar at the after-ceremony party. As I am a very bad drinker, I have no idea what signal I am sending out that attracts drinkers--let alone a young and single Buddhist priest from a temple in the north--but it is one of life's mysteries that I pretty much accept at this point, as it has led me to meet interesting people with wonderful stories.

I guess maybe some of you non-drinkers like me too.

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