Saturday, 6 November 2010

Saturday in Kyoto

Nao and I met on Friday night and stayed, we think, in the first hotel we ever stayed in together, some eight years ago.  The location was not romantic in a conventional sense, being bang in the middle of Osaka´s extensive red light district, but for us it held fond memories. 
Although, to be honest, Nao remembers rather more than I do.  My own memories were limited to the Aecht Schlaenkerla Rauchbier, a fairly obscure German smoked beer we used to drink in the Cellar Bar in St Andrews, which I was surprised to find all those years ago on the shelves of the convenience store next door to the hotel.  Call me a romantic. 
We spent Saturday in Kyoto, another significant place in our early years together.  We revisited Nishi Honganji, the home temple of the one of the Jodo Shinshu sects whose founder's work I study.  Then, at Higashi Honganji, the headquarters of the other principal Shinshu sect, we heard a moving sermon given by a minister who had lost his daughter when she was young. 
That evening, we enjoyed a stroll around the winding old streets of the scenic Higashiyama area.  Here was a taste of old Kyoto, including a cup of matcha on the tatami of a picture-perfect tea house and even a fleeting glance of a geisha with her equally painted young daughter. 
For dinner, we met our friend Masao and his wife at a German beer hall in Osaka.  We first met Masao back at Little St Mary´s in Cambridge, when he was studying English there.  At the time, he was making the transition from being a Protestant minister to becoming an Anglican, and is now in training for Holy Orders at Williams' College, Kyoto.  He has a love for Japanese tradition, to the extent that he writes Haiku, and is as interested as I am in trying to reconcile Japanese Christianity with its host country's native arts. May the Lord assist us in our endeavours.

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