When we taught English in Japan, most of our fellow teachers were the age of our children. Many of them were here for a year or two before returning to North America to establish careers or return to school for further education. Others moved on from our English school to other employment here in Japan. We were a bit concerned about a few who seemed to be in a rut, staying on at MIL only because they didn’t know what else to do with their lives. Today we had lunch with one of the young men that we taught with and were excited to hear about his plans. After five years in Japan, he’s on his way back to America to enter grad school.

After lunch, we headed out to the temple town of Narita to revisit one of our favourite spots. To me, the Buddhist temple, Shinsho-ji, dedicated to Fudo Myouou, the god of fire, is representative of the spiritual darkness that blankets this land but the grounds, especially those furthest from the temple itself, are an area of great beauty and tranquility. We’ve visited in both spring at cherry blossom time and in the fall when the trees were clothed in autumn splendor. Today, with many of them bare and only the earliest blossoms bursting forth, the look was somewhat starker but no less beautiful. Pathways circle three ponds with water flowing from one to the next. Without the colour of cherry blossoms or autumn leaves to focus on, my eye was especially drawn to reflections on the water.

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