how to wrap up such a wonderful stopover in the mere forty-five minutes I have left in the country? japan was lovely, filled with a quiet, dignified beauty, and set apart by an ethic of service that seems to define what it means to be japanese. no wonder ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, for whom service was the only goal and desire—so much so that he took service into His very name—prophecied that Japan would “turn ablaze” when the foundations of the Faith of Bahá’u’ll´ were established there.
after arriving (and sleeping off a great deal of jet lag), I spent the next morning and afternoon with friendly and gracious hosts Lara and Eric on a picnic with the kids. several of their friends came too, and we all enjoyed an oddly cool day sitting beneath a dogwood tree eating onigiri. i should say that i no longer have any respect for the usual bento-box sushi sold in Ottawa after eating onigiri in Japan. after the picnic, Lara and I stopped by the Tokyo Baha’i Centre (unfortunately, not with enough time to linger inside) to join some of the local Baha’is on a trip to a devotional meeting. we shared prayers together, and spent some time talking about the life and growth of the Tokyo Baha’i community as well—the Tokyo Baha’is are in the midst of the first cycle of their intensive program of growth right now, so it’s an exciting time for them all. the day ended with us taking the train back home, stopping along the way to bring home some delicious ichigo daifuku.
the next day, after trying natto for the first (last?) time, I ventured out, on my own, to browse through Tokyo’s Akihabara district, known as a centre for electronics and anime- and manga-related shops. after a number of money-related mishaps (as in, not having any) I managed to get my hands on some yen and made a few modest purchases without breaking the bank at all. after even more clueless traveller-related mishaps (including erasing the balance on the Suica card I was carrying) I managed to make my way back to Lara and Eric’s place—where, oddly enough, no one was home. fortunately, I was able to grab their wireless connection and call them up using Skype to tell them where I was. I love Skype. I think when I return to Canada I’m going to cancel my home phone and just use Skype. anyway. the night ended with large amounts of sushi and smiling faces, and I went to bed a little early.
the last day went quite well too; after a more western-style breakfast of toast, sausage and (red!) eggs, we started the day with a devotional meeting with more Baha’i friends from various places around the Tokyo area. lots of children were present, so we said prayers for children. everyone sang a few prayers in Japanese, which I managed to record—I’ll post them online when I get the chance to clean up the audio files. afterwards, it was time for me to say goodbye to the family as they went to enjoy the day with another picnic. after almost missing my bus to the airport at Kichijoji station (ha ha more lame traveller screwups, although there was definitely a hint of divine intervention in this situation), I was on my way back to the airport for my flight to Saigon.
all in all, Japan is definitely a place I’d like to visit again—and not just for a few days.