We first visited Osaka, the second largest city in Japan, in 2005 when our son and daughter-in-law lived here. Robin planned a busy and exciting itinerary for us. Looking back, it’s amazing how much we managed to fit into the nine days that we were here. In addition to seeing many of the sights of Osaka itself, we travelled to Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Himeji, Hiroshima and Miyajima. We saw castles, temples, shrines and palaces. We tried all sorts of interesting foods and I fell in love with Japanese gardens.
This visit has been entirely different. While living in Funabashi and attending Hope Church, we met Joel and Kelly who were preparing to plant a church here in Osaka. We’ve been staying in their home for the past few days and yesterday we attended Life Church with them. What a joy to see what God has been doing here! In less than two years, the church has outgrown its first venue and, with an average attendance of approximately 50 people, the second is bursting at the seams!
Sharing our visit with Joel’s parents who are also here for a couple of days has been an unexpected pleasure. Leo and Phyllis Kaylor came to Japan as missionaries 60 years ago. Settling on the southern island of Kyushu, they have devoted their lives to God’s work in Japan. Three of their sons now pastor churches in this country.
We’ve been enjoying wonderful meals together, having fun times with the three Kaylor kids and engaging in many great discussions. Last night, we were introduced to yaki niku. Gathered around tabletop braziers in a tiny crowded restaurant, we cooked and ate a variety of meats and vegetables. I was amazed to discover that my favourite part of the meal was the paper thin slices of beef tongue! Right now, Richard is taking part in another Japanese tradition. He’s at the public bath with the men of the family.
This afternoon, our return to Osaka overlapped with our previous visit for the first time when we went to Todai-Ji temple in Nara. After walking amongst some of the thousands of tame deer that inhabit the park surrounding the temple, we entered Daibutsu-den Hall, the largest wooden building in the world. The Daibutsu (Great Buddha) housed within is one of the largest bronze figures in the world, cast in 746 AD. Standing just over 16 m high, it’s made of 437 tonnes of bronze and 130 kg of gold. It’s impossible to really capture the size in a photo but to give you an idea, there’s a wooden pillar in the temple with a hole through it that is the same size as one of the Daibutsu’s nostrils. Today we watched a grown man squeeze through it!