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Dr John Hawkins

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Back in Japan

Posted on 2005/07/17 02:00:13 (July 2005).

[Friday 15th July]
I had been away from Japan almost six weeks in total. Yes - I had achieved a lot in that time - finishing off my Phd, even managaing to fit in the graduation ceremony, as well as spending a good chunk of time with pretty much every member of my family, and also going to America and back for an interview. Still though, it had meant I had been away from Chie for a long time, and the last final slog to get to her - 35 hours of air travel over five days - had seemed really ardurous. So you can imagine how utterly over the moon I was when I walked through the arrivals gate at Osaka Kansai airport, first thing Friday morning, and saw Chie standing there waiting for me. It just couldn't have been any better.
Chie had arranged a treat for our first day back together again - we were going to go to Koyasan, a town not too far from Osaka up on top of a mountain, which was full of temples. We were going to stay in a shukuboh again - a traditional Japanese inn based in a temple, as we'd done once before in Kyoto.
We got to Koyasan around 1ish, and after a quick spot of lunch and a bit of a wander around we went to check in at the shukuboh. By this time I was knackered, so I had a nap in the afternoon while Chie went off for a further wander by herself for an hour or two. Dinner, at 6, was served in our room, and we had Shojin Ryori - the traditional food of Buddhist monks, and for once it was actually a genuine one, totally vegetarian, not a drop of fish stock in sight. Having only just woken up, and my digestive system being in revolt as a consequence of double jetlag, I didn't have a great appetite, and couldn't really do the feast justice. What I did eat was great though - particularly the Koyadofu - a type of freeze dried tofu, which apparently originates in Koyasan (thus the name). There is something special about the terroir, which wine (and whisky) connoiseurs often talk about - things have this strange habit of tasting best in the place they were made. Wine is best tasted in the vineyard, whisky in the distillery, and Koya dofu - well, naturally, in Koyasan.
After dinner we had a monk come to our room to teach us some caligraphy. We had this sort of tracing paper stuff to write out a big long prayer. Chie did this very nciely indeed, my sheet of paper was somewhat more messy and ilegible, but still, it was a very interesting experience nonetheless.

Comment 1

Great to see you're straight back into the culture sampling with the calligraphy. My fave picture so far is this one:


To me, this definitely feels like contentment.

Posted by Rob Lang at 2005/07/18 14:57:15.

Comment 2

Actually it was more like sleep deprivation, but call it contentment if you want!

Posted by John at 2005/07/19 01:26:50.

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