One of our earliest outings after arriving in Japan was an afternoon visit to Shinsho-Ji, the Buddhist temple at Narita. As we strolled the beautiful grounds, I decided that I wanted to return in the fall to see the trees in their autumn splendor. The last few days have been chilly and gray but today was warm and sunny; a perfect day to spend outdoors and the area was every bit as gorgeous as I thought it would be. We didn’t spend much time in and around the temple itself, preferring to spend our afternoon enjoying its peaceful surroundings.
Omotesando, the narrow street that stretches between the train station and the temple area is an interesting stroll. Packed with little shops and good places to eat, it’s a popular spot for tourists. As we walked it today, we talked about the fact that, while we still have much in common with the tourists, we no longer feel like one of them. Imagine our surprise when, on the way back from the temple, we met one of our Japanese friends from church! We knew that she worked at the Narita airport but didn’t realize that she lived in town. Clearly that encounter confirmed our feeling that we aren’t simply tourists here.
We had another interesting encounter on the train on the way home. There are always many people on the train from Narita who are coming from the airport. Suitcases often fill the aisle and I’m always curious about where their owners have been. In Japan, it’s considered rude to speak to strangers and most of the time we don’t, but when I noticed a Remembrance Day poppy on the lapel of a fellow sitting nearby, I couldn’t help commenting. It turned out that he was returning to Japan after spending the past year studying French in Montreal. His English was also good and we enjoyed hearing about his experiences in Canada and his impressions of Canadian people. It sounds like he enjoyed our country every bit as much as we’re enjoying his.