Zen Tour, zazen, tea ceremony, Buddhist dishes

Thursday, April 29th, 2010


Why don’t you try experiencing Zazen and having a short tea ceremony ? Chokoji in Numazu ( Shizuoka ) has a beautiful garden and tea room. This temple has strong ties to the Zen master, Hakuin.

Zazen and tea ceremony will make your mind clearer and give you more energy !

For those who have problems with kneeling, we will prepare a table and chair for the ceremonies, so that anybody can participate with ease.

Afterwards we will enjoy Japanese Buddhist dishes.

Date and  Time : June 21st ( Mon ) 10:00 AM ~ 13:00 PM  ,  June 27th ( Sun ) 10:00 AM ~13:00 PM

Meeting point   : JR local Tokaido line, Hara station ( 9:40 AM )

Fees                  : 5,000 yen

Schedule           1.  Zazen

                          2. Viewing the tea room and garden, enjoying powdered tea and confectionary

                          3. Lunch    Buddhist dishes  ( at Bells )             13:00 PM  Finish

Dress code         : Please wear something loose and flexible such as sweat pants.

                            We take off our socks when we do zazen.

Cancellation charges  : If you have to cancel, please let us know as soon as possible.

                                     Day before the tour  50% of the fee

                                     Day of the tour 100 % of the fee.

Please refer to February 23rd’s blog entry and user’s voice ( comment ).

If you are interested in this event, please let us know. You might leave your e-mail address as comment then we’ll contact you later.

Notice :  Chokoji Temple holds its annual festival on May 30  http://www11.plala.or.jp/cyokoji/annai/naki.html


Green tea festival in Fujinomiya, at the foot of Mt. Fuji

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010


We went to a green tea festival. Shizuoka is famous for its delicious and abundant green tea. And April is the beginning of the new tea season. We enjoyed picking green tea leaves.

This lady and her assistant girls showed and told us how to harvest. It was a lot of fun !

They made tenpura with these new leaves fresh from the farm. It was very delicious.




By experiencing these kinds of things we can understand why tea is expensive. This lady is a great tea producer. She is young but has already won many prizes for making tea or tasting tea. She is always enthusiastic about growing and making delicious and chemical-free tea. I always feel strong energy when I see her. We can enjoy tasting green tea, learning how to make delicious tea or buying inexpensive but good tea at the festival. We all had great time. Let’s go to the festival next year together

Kodan, Japanese story telling

Monday, April 26th, 2010

I went to kodan performance the other day. Do you know what kodan is ?

Just like in rakugo, the stories are spoken by one performer sitting behind a small table. The difference between rakugo and kodan is that rakugo has a punchline but kodan doesn’t. In kodan performers often talk about historical wars, revenge and human compassion. On that day a famous kodan performer Yoko Kanda and her students performed. Yoko Kanda talked about Saigyo ( 1118~ 1190 ), who used to be a samurai but became a priest later for various reasons. It is said he was intelligent, handsome and athletic. He left his family at the age of 22. He left many excellent “waka” or short poems.

Yoko Kanda told a few more stories and they were all entertaining.

One of her students related a story about Shimizu no Jrocho ( 1820~1893 ) who is from Shizuoka ( Shimizu ). He was a Yakuza, a kind of mafia, but later he turned into a good person. I think even when he was Yakuza he contributed to the society by tackling difficult and terrible things that ordinary people avoided taking care of. He helped the weak. I respect him in a way.

Each time I appreciate their performance, I wish school teachers could teach their lessons like that. Then more students will be more interested in the subject. At least they don’t fall asleep.


Here you can enjoy her kodan. Have fun!

This Year’s Cherry Blossoms

Friday, April 16th, 2010


This year the cherry blossoms started earlier than usual. Then we had a cold snap. Warm weather and cold weather alternated many times so the blossoms lasted longer than usual. In this place the flowers started coming out about 2 weeks ago but they took a long time to be in full bloom, and some flowers are still hanging on now. To me it seems very strange. I prefer it when cherry blossoms bloom and drop relatively quickly. That is their real beauty. This year’s situation is like when someone overstays at a drinks party and misses their chance of leaving. Complaining about the weather doesnt help, however. Probably Mother Nature is trying to teach us something.


Green tea field tour  April 25th ( Sun )

                  Start at 9:30 AM in Fujinomiya

                  You can experience green tea leaves picking, green tea leaves tempura, walking the tea field, enjoy shopping, etc.

                  If you are interested in it, please contact us.

Cherry Blossom Viewing Part2

Monday, April 12th, 2010

This young man is from the U.S. Since Hanami (or Cherry blossom viewing) was a first experience for him, he was very excited to take part in Hanami. He studied history in the U.S. and is particularly interested in the Japanese toilet or sewage system of the Edo era and he even wrote paper on it !



This young lady is from Scotland. She is trying to fix her camera but it’s not easy for her. She has already had another Hanami party before so it’s not new for her but she is excited to find something new.


I took these photos in front of an old inn called Honjin where feudal lords called daimyo used to stay.?In those days feudal lords had to alternate their residence between Edo ( Tokyo ) and their local town. Their wives had to stay in Edo rather like hostages. For feudal lords it cost a lot of money to travel with their followers but on the other hand it must have stimulated economic activities. It is said that when their processions were going on commoners were not to look at them so they got down on the road with their heads down. When commoners were not around the processions the group of feudal lords moved very quickly so that they could save money.  












We visited another old house. It is said to have been built more than 120 years ago. This house is very unique since outside is western but inside it is in typical Japanese style.

After Meiji Restoration, Japan took in a lot of western culture. After a long period of international seclusion, many Japanese might have longed for something western. The owner of this house was a carpenter and his son became a dentist and then remodeled the house as a dental office.

As patients he had VIPs such as Count Tanaka who spent his retired life nearby. Or in the back of this house, we can see another old house. I heard some patients who came from?far away place used to stay for a month or so for their dental care. For example geisha from Atami. Thanks to bullet trains we can travel from Atami very quickly but it took a long time to travel then.

It must have been very luxurious to have dental care.  This is a waiting room for VIPs. It has an alcove and goldensliding doors with gorgeous painting on them.








I also encountered “ Sakura Zensen Otoko “ or the “cherry blossom front man”.He carries a guitar and karaoke equipment with him. He travels around famous cherry blossom viewing sites. Japan arches from south to north and this man travels according to cherry blossom blooming. He suddenly appears at Hanami site and sings songs.

This lady asked me “ How do you say konnichwa in English ?” She said “ hello “ to him and they greeted each other. At Hanami people have fun in a friendly atmosphere.

Cherry Blossom Viewing Part 1

Monday, April 5th, 2010

We went cherry blossom viewing in Kanbara. It was called Kanbara town but now it’s a part of Shizuoka Cty. This area is usually quite but it was very busy on that day.

During the Edo era, it was the 15th station ( from Edo ) of the Tokaido Highway. It still has many old houses.

First we went to the oldest house in this town ( about 180 years old ). In 1854 a big earthquake hit this area and many houses were destroyed but this house survived.

 We went inside and they showed us many old kimono.



This is a jacket for a fire fighter in old days. It’s very thick and heavy. This jacket and hood are reversible.

When fire broke out, fire fighters soaked these gears in water then wore them and went into the fire to save people or extinguish the fire.

When they succeeded in their job, they put the jacket and hood inside out to show that they ae heros.



Here she tried on interesting kimono. It looks gorgeous but this is underwear for kimono. This is very expensive kind.


I heard that kimono can be judged by its lining. Probably it goes the same on underwear.

            She bought this kimono coat. It was almost new. It was a little cold and she needed something to keep herself warm. She was wearing very modern fashinable clothes but somehow this old kimono coat matched very well. It was only 2,000 yen. 

We spent too much time in this house. We had booked lunch at a different house so we hurried on.

   They served ” Edo Gozen”. It means Edo style meal. The theme of today’s lunch was spring.

We had chirashi zushi, soup with prawn dumplings, radish salad called ” shiraae” ( the sauce seems to be made from tofu, sesame, salt sugar and broth ), grilled sea bream and a dumpling called Joruru manjyu.

We all enjoyed each dish and nobody left the food and some people even asked for seconds on sushi ! After lunch our exploring continued but I’ll save the rest of it for the next entry.



The Photographers meet in Asagiri

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

I took an American photographer to my photo teacher’s studio.  We had already planned many times to go out to take photos of Mt. Fuji in February and March but each time the weather wasn’t very convenient for us. Since the cherry blossoms had started to bloom we decided to try again.



She enjoyed taking photos of the people and cherry blossoms. I was curious how and what she takes and kept observing her. On that day we couldn’t see Mt. Fuji,  though. She has a very good camera so I asked her to take my photos. When I faced her Hubble telescope type of camera I was a kind of scared. I like her photos so I tried to steal her skills but it was not easy.


My photo teacher’s place is located in deep Fujinomiya. It’s a very nice place but that day was a cold day.  My American friend and my teacher got along very well. Since my teacher has visited many American National Parks to take photos they talked a lot about the places or technical things to do with photography. Since my teacher takes photos of Kabuki actor Ichikawa Kamejiro, we talked about Kabuki, too. We had many more things to talk about but it started to snow !  I’m not used to driving in the snow and my winter tires had  just been  replaced with normal ones. We had to leave soon. We hope to visit them again and see a huge and beautiful Mt. Fuji from their garden.

 The following morning, I took a walk around my neighborhood  and saw Mt. Fuji. I think if you really want to see Mt. Fuji you must stay longer around here. But people are too busy these days. Those who are too busy to stay around can read Noriko’s Diary Noriko san is my photo teacher’s wife and in her blog people can learn about their beautiful life.






Cherry Blossom and Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

 I went to Fujinomiya early in the morning. Fujinomiya is one of the gateways to Mt.Fuji. On the top of Mt. Fuji this shrine is enshrined. When Mt. Fuji was very active as a volcano, it was built to pacify the mountain. This morning it was kind of cloudy but the air was fresh and clear. I saw some shrine maidens preparing for some wedding ceremonies. The shrine, cherry blossoms and shrine maidens make a great combination. I wish I could have seen Mt. Fuji clearly. It was foggy in the high place. Probably it must have been snowing at the top.







As I kept going to the right side of the main shrine, I saw a water gods shrine. We can get current water from Mt. Fuji there. I often see people bringing plastic containers to get this spring water. This is very good water to drink but its better to boil it before you drink it. In this area we take advantage of this spring water from Mt. Fuji to produce foods and drinks, for agriculture or industry. On the other hand, people are concerned about its depletion. At this shrine on 3rd and 4th of April, a festival will be held. They will have Noh and Gagaku performances. http://fuji-hongu.or.jp/sengen/festivals/04_09.html