Once again, the line marking the year that was and the the year that is, blurs. I worked right up through December 27 and spent New Year’s Eve on a transatlantic flight from Tokyo to Washington, D.C. I will remember 2008 as a year of travel. Also one of completion, as many projects came to their fruition, most-notably the Stepping Stones Meditation Series. I had an opportunity visit the Far East twice in one year and during my favorite seasons to be there: Spring and Fall. The following pictures are from the latter of these visits.
I started the autumn tour landing in cold and windy Osaka City, then traveled over-night by ferry to Kyushu. Japan has four main islands and thousands of lesser ones. Kyushu is the southern-most of the main four. Shikoku, where I traveled next, is the eastern-most and has a beautiful coastline facing the Pacific Ocean. Honshu to the west is often considered the main island of Japan and includes all the major cities: Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kyoto to name a few. The fourth is Hokkaido to the north, which I have visited several times, but not on this trip.
Every event in Japan and Taiwan was a delight. I met many old friends and enjoyed making new ones. All along the way, musician friends joined bringing light and joy to the celebrations. Many events this time were evening and one-day gatherings, but in Taiwan I had the opportunity to facilitate a three-day workshop. The extra days gave people time to relax, open up, and dive deeper into the meditations. I allowed myself the rare luxury of being a participant, so the group was like a retreat for me – very nice after such a busy year.
My visits to the Far East are infinitely inspiring, not to mention intriguing. I always try to capture something of its essence with my camera lens, but I find its qualities fleeting and ephemeral at best. I wrote some small poems this time, so perhaps together with the photos I will come a little closer to sharing its essence.
I write these words from the aloneness of my rural retreat in USA, where the tide of year 2008 has washed me up on the shores of 2009. Slipping into the New Year, like one would into the warm waters of a Japanese hotspring, nice and easy, I’ve made my resolution to invite more laughter, love, and light into my life. Browsing back through the previous year’s photos and the ones for this update, I am reminded how every moment captured by my camera represents an experience lived and all these moments taken together has brought me to the place I am today. With this understanding and all gratitude for the wonderful year that was, I embrace the moment and turn my gaze to the horizon, stepping forward into an unknown year waiting to unfold and be discovered. I wish everyone enjoying this page a happy and creative New Year. May your visions unfold and your deepest longings be realized.
Down the back streets of an unfamiliar town
One step at a time
Home wherever I am
Katsuo is a specialty of Shikoku. Fresh slabs of tuna are rubbed with salt, then seared over a hot fire made from straw.
It is usually eaten with fresh ginger and garlic. Delicious!
Okayama and Kurashiki
Paints the leaves of kaki trees
Heavy with the sweetness of
This is kakioka. It a kind of okonomiyaki, a vegetable pancake made with either cabbage, soba noodles, or sometimes both depending on the region. Every place has its own style. Here it is being prepared with fresh oysters(‘kaki’ in japanese), which are a local speciality of this area. There are several sauces to go along side and it is prepared on hot plates everyone sits around. Okonomiyaki goes very well with cold beer and the company of good friends.
Road through the market
Ends at the temple gates
Scattered on the frosty ground
In winter’s silence
The promise of Spring
Ripples on flooded rice fields
Old Lao Tzu stirring in his sleep
Maebashi (Japan) – end of tour
The last few days of 2008, I passed back through Japan after Taiwan and had a short visit with my friends Vimal, Mukti, daughter Aineh, and Snowy before continuing my onward journey to America. After all the year’s travels and adventures, it was the moment to relax and let-go. We enjoyed easy days together, hotspring, good food, and ALOT of laughter – perfect ending to a wonderful year.
2009? I predict a year of miracles.