Tokurin-Ji Temple: Sakura festival and Buddha’s B-Day
Me with my little friend Joti-Chan and the wedding couple. : )
Hello friends, I’m just chilling in my room, taking a break from studying Japanese. I’ve been improving, but I’m still quite awful.
Well, let’s see… I’ve been at Tokurin-Ji Temple for over a week now and I have really enjoyed being here. The week long Sakura festival was a lot of fun and very beautiful. I kept busy by helping in the kitchen, working in the garden, and hanging out with my new buddies Lin-San and Jun-San. I’ve also made good friends with many other people who I had to say goodbye to. The two people who stick out are Rie-San and Ruri-San; both are single mothers with big hearts and senses of humor. I spent many moments laughing with them and their children.
I was pretty busy during the festival, but I found some free time here and there. I played frisbee with the children, Lin-San, and Jun-San. I was so happy to use my disc after a long hiatus. The children I taught learned so fast and could throw forehand by the 2nd day. Wowie Zowie! I also learned a Nepalese dance (a few actually). The head monk Oshou-San lived in Nepal for many years and invites his Nepalese friends to stay at the temple every year. Right now there are four Nepalese men and one wife and they sure love to dance. There is a part of the temple devoted to Nepal culture, I love spending time there. It is full of singing, dancing, laughing, and I’m even learning a bit of Nepalese and Sanskrit. My favorite word I’ve learned is “shantikuaty,” which means safe/peace house in Sanskrit.
There was also a wedding last Saturday (see picture above) and the best part? It was a traditional Japanese wedding! The wife was in a beautiful kimono and her husband (a monk from the temple) was in special monk garb. I was fortunate enough to see the ceremony! We cooked so much food that day too and it was very delicious.
The final day of the ceremony was the biggest day and had the best weather. This day is special because Monday was Buddha’s birthday! There were many vendors, ceremonies, zazen’s, and other fun stuff like a discussion about Gift Economy. (I’ll talk about that later, pretty cool idea). One of the vendors had an ukulele and it felt so good to play again. I wowed my staff with my songs. They even made me perform on stage for the visitors. I’m usually too shy to play in front of so many people, but I was so overjoyed that I didn’t even care. I got a few videos of the other performances too.
So, I learned Lin-San has the same birthday as Buddha (fitting for a Buddhist monk) and I thought a birthday has to have a birthday cake! So, I asked Oshou-San what ingredients I couldn’t use. Obviously meat, but he also said eggs, milk, and butter is not okay. I didn’t realize I’ve been eating vegan for the last week, hmm…being vegan ain’t that bad. K well, I found a vegan chocolate cake recipe and got to work with a few other staff. When people heard I was making cake (“cake-y” in Japanese), they got very excited. I guess it has been a long time since someone made a cake here. Jun-San knew of a mint bush nearby and picked leaves for the chocolate topping. The cake turned out as a brownie masterpiece and I think Lin-San almost cried when we came out singing Happy Birthday to him (and Buddha of course). Since then he has been gifting me with sweets and flowers each day, as a thank you. I tell him he doesn’t have to, but I’m not complaining. ; )
Other than that, I’ve been relaxing, journaling, working, walking, and zazening. Life is simple here and I really like that. I have had a lot of time to think about my life and my future goals. Also, even though Jun-San can only speak a little English, he gives great advice. We have to use body language, my bad Japanese, his bad English, and a nearby dictionary, but we understand each other eventually.
Well, dinner will be soon. I should prepare for my vegan feast.