This time I visit Japan to meet and support friends and colleagues, especially those in Sendai (which was severely hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011). It is my 23rd visit to Japan, but the first one I planned with pity and sorrows, instead of joyful and happy anticipation!
My journey started in Kyoto today, with a few days of rest coming, and then it will go up north.
Besides seeing my fellow Japanese researchers, I hope to find inspirations and ideas for my new Zen-Dojo in Kinzweiler (near Aachen, Germany).
Although Zen-temples are easy to find and to visit as a tourist, a direct contact or participation at Zazen is usually much more complicated, and often requires some knowledge of the Japanese language. I still vividly remember my first attempt going to the Gyoten (sunrise) Zazenkai at Engakuji in Kita-Kamakura about eleven years ago.
All announcement was written in Japanese (I could not read back then). So I phoned the temple the afternoon before, and with lots of repetition and back and forth, eventually I half-way understood where and when to go. Still, it was a real adventure, and I was much afraid “to do something wrong”.
Things changed a bit for the good during the past couple of years, and there are more and more places which welcome foreigners nowadays.