gozarks.com weblog

Today is the present… be the gift.

Japan Chronicles: The Great Buddha May 28, 2016

Filed under: EDITORIAL,EN ROUTE,GOD,JAPAN CHRONICLES — gozarks @ 2:57 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I took over a hundred pics of the gardens, statuary and structures that are the Hasedera Temple and the Great Buddha Kotoku-in Temple, both of which are in the port town of Kamakura, population 175,000, which is about 6 miles (as the crow flies) north west of Yokosuka, where we stayed with my youngest son.

kamakura_yokosuka_map

Kamakura, home to many Buddhist temples and gardens, is (as best I remember) about an hour’s commuter train-ride from Yokosuka.

Our day touring the temples started with a walk along Blue Street to the train station, about which I must say that Japan’s public transportation system is highly efficient, clean, modern and provided my introduction to ‘heated toilet seats’…!!!

It also provided very easy access to all the places we visited, fairly inexpensively.

me_plustwo_train

One of the few times on public transport that we were able to sit together… and as you can see, we were all elated with the experience <lol>!!!

The down side, however, is that the physical capacity (ie: available seating) on trains and busses is routinely filled beyond the max, thus making for (shoulder-to-shoulder) standing room only… which is especially challenging when ‘trying’ to stay together as a group –and/or- carrying several bags of groceries or luggage.

Thus to a Michigan girl like me, born and raised in the land of FoMoCo, there will never be anything quite as comfortable and convenient as my own private automobile… Unless <ahem> it is my own private RV… <smile>… but I digress.

buddah_courtyard052816

The Great Buddha is nearly 40 ft. tall and weighs roughly 121 tons.

The courtyard surrounding The Great Buddha – a national treasure cast in copper by priestly fundraising efforts and anonymous artisan hands back in 1252 – is open for visitors to stroll at their leisure. Formally known as ‘The Seated Buddha Amida Noyorai’ and also by the familiar name Daibutusu, The Great Buddha is the principle deity of the Kotoku-in Temple.

buddah_child052816

The child standing at the base of The Great Buddha gives you some idea of the grand scale of this magnificent work of art.

As much now (if not more?) a cultural (tourist) attraction as a pilgrimage and worship site, visitors of various denominations bask in the sublime poise of ancient arte-factual antiquity, dappled like a stone-hewn canvas with colorful bursts of fragrant blossoms and lush greenery.

carved_stone052816

Beauty, simplicity, endurance hewn of stone.

When first built, The Great Buddha was enshrined in a hall, but over the course of a few hundred years the building was damaged and ultimately destroyed by two typhoons and an earthquake. Since 1498 The Great Buddha sits in the open-air Kotoku-in Temple, visited by vast numbers of Buddhists of all sects from around the world and all over Japan who come to pay their respects and invoke the wisdom taught by the Jodo Sect of the Kotoku-in Temple: “To liberate all beings.”

pink_boquet052816

The courtyard is awash with glorious blossoms.

According to Jodo teaching, one only needs to chant the phrase “Namu Amida Butsu” (I take refuge in Amitabha Buddha) to be liberated from the karmic wheel of ‘good vs evil’ and reborn in the ‘pure’ land, aka: Nirvana. Aka: Happiness.

bamboo_well052816

Tucked back in a side-pocket of the courtyard: this old well with a bamboo cover, strung together (I imagine) much as such would have been ‘way back when.’

All of which (and the following several photos) I’ll leave you with this time around, noting that of the hundred pics initially mentioned, today I managed to go through about a third of them, selected those that I wanted to use, set-up and photographed the last image you’ll see below, then cropped, resized, color- and contrast-corrected, resolution-optimized, uploaded and published the batch…

tree_crutch052816

Have you ever seen a tree-crutch quite like this…???

Also noting that, obviously, I have yet to travelogue the photos from Hasedera Temple (which shall be forthcoming next time around) and all the while reflecting on the ‘sacred truth’ of Buddhism as nicely articulated by Debra Maxwell in a comment posted to this Youtube of the Buddhist “Heart Sutra” Chant

“To know the truth of life, to make your life a meditation, you don’t need to shave your head, go to a cave or chant.”

sacred_water052816

Many who entered the temple washed their hands with water dipped from a ceremonial cleansing station.

As I would say, just think of every breath, thought and action of your life as ‘sacred’ <smile>… Mainly because you are and thus it is… (((hugs))) ~Christine

ornate_dragon052816

The ornate dragon cast in the stately work of art speaks to the Mystic Law and Celestial Magic of Enlightened Devas in Nirvana.

 

great_buddah052816

The pronounced circle in the center of The Great Buddha’s forehead is representative of an enlightened being’s ‘third eye’ which sees through the superficiality of matter to the heart of the invisible from which pure love, sublime peace and blissful pleasure emanate.

 

key_chain_ticket052816

I got this key-chain with the tiny bell on it (symbol of Buddha’s voice which sustains the order of the universe by powers that come from within the devotee’s own life) at the gift shop on the grounds of The Great Buddha Kotoku-in Temple. Also got the ‘smudge stick’ there and, of course, the admission ticket. The sweet elephant change-purse came from a shop along the way from one temple to another in Kamakura.

 

Advertisements
 

Japan Chronicles: Where, What, How. May 9, 2016

Where did you go? What did you eat? And, how was the weather? The top three questions folks ask when we chat about my trip. Thus I start with a couple of maps…

Where in the world is Japan...

Where in the world is Japan…??? Roughly 6000 miles from our home in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, which is well beyond the right horizon of this globe… somewhere south of Canada.

The red-circled region of Japan, on the map above, is shown in close-up, below:

what??

Yokosuka, a thriving cosmopolitan city of about 400,000 residents, is in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan.

While we were there, we went mainly to a lot of places that regular folks who live in Yokosuka would go…

"Blue Street" so named because of the bright blue pebbles embedded in the blacktop paving and the decorative brick-work of the sidewalks that border it.

The shops along “Blue Street,” so named because of the bright blue pebbles embedded in the blacktop paving.

We walked along Blue Street every day, going to the local malls and window-shopping along the way.

Another pic with Blue Street in the background.

Another pic with Blue Street in the background.

I love the above pic (which shows a snippet of the beautiful sidewalks that border Blue Street) because of the impish and whimsical looks on the faces of both my young men <smile>. which reminded me so greatly of when they were little kids… as did the girls… radiant and smiling as always.

Foods at the mall.

Foods at the mall.

One mall we shopped at had 9 floors of shops. One floor was like a large grocery store, one floor was filled with various bakeries.

Baked treats.

Baked treats.

Everywhere, people were friendly (though we did our best to be respectful and NOT take photos of ‘strangers’ as this is considered rude and offensive in Japan) and the service was super-polite and professional.

Josh, making a purchase at one of the bakery shops in the mall.

Josh, making a purchase at one of the bakery shops in the mall.

And with appreciation and respect to the folks who happened to be in this photo of Josh, as you may note, we were often the only non-Japanese in the room.

We also dined at the mall, which had several floors devoted to eateries. In the pics below, we are enjoying the fun of an ‘all you can eat’ hibachi buffet.

Me (aka: Christine Louise Beems) and Shawna.

Me (aka: Christine Louise Beems) and Shawna.

Simmering below are thinly-sliced strips of beef and pork tongue (in the foreground) and marinated chicken (in the background)

Grill-your-own is the way this buffet works.

Grill-your-own is the way this buffet works.

The way this ‘all you can eat’ (about $20 per person) buffet worked, you got to order ‘more food’ (from your selected buffet menu) as many times as you could cook it and eat it in 90-minutes.  And there were side-dishes, too… we got some kimchi and some rice and some really creamy ‘mashed potato salad’… which is really big in Japan and served rather routinely, the way we serve coleslaw, in Arkansas.

Lizard awaiting adoption from the mall's pet store.

Lizard awaiting adoption from the mall’s pet store.

On another floor of the mall, we visited a pet store, which had pretty-much all the same kinds of puppies, lizards, and hedgehogs that you might find in just about any pet store today. One exception, however, was the tiny frog pictured ‘larger than life’ below, which was barely as big as a quarter and perhaps a distant cousin of the teeny tree-frog that lived for a while in my atrium and whose pic has been my FB icon for nearly a decade.

Tiny frog in pet store.

Tiny frog in pet store.

And on yet another floor of the mall, we strolled through a haberdashery, brimming with things to satisfy the most discriminating tastes of the most elegant and charming men…

Looking kewl...

Looking kewl…

About the weather, the overcast gray sky in the photo below is what we saw most of the time. And it was chilly, except during those joyful moments when the sun peeked out and it would get warm really quick.

Grey skies were our steady companion.

Grey skies were our steady companion.

Pruned trees, like the one above, line the sides of Blue Street, somewhat aesthetically bridging the gap between the high-rise cosmopolitan character of the city and neighborhood street shops of Yokosuka. I bet the trees look spectacular at the peak of summer.

Until next time (and our tour of two Buddhist Temples)… (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

Japan Chronicles: Homecoming May 2, 2016

Some of the best advice I ever got was “Start with the End in Mind.” It came, as I recall, from a management training program I attended back in the 1970’s. And, truth be told, to fully appreciate the reality of my present moment, we would have to go back that far and stroll through what all I’ve experienced since (and even prior to) then… and you would also have to be sitting next to me right now, in my bedroom, ensconced through big-window glory by a lush variegation of sun-dappled forest green with the lighthearted hymn of my tiny brook babbling in the background.

ASIDE: Did you know that, as new historians (an oxymoron?) now tell it, the first published author and also the first known person to utilize the phrase “I am” in print – which was a total linguistic anomaly at that time – was a woman. A high priestess, to be exact, who wielded more political clout in her day than did Karl Rove during GW’s administration. But don’t take my word for it… have a gander at “The Ascent of Woman” the next time you Netflix.

Back to the moment, at least for me (as I write), this space/time of here-in-now is pretty-damn perfect: I sit in my grandmother’s old rocking chair (that I reupholstered a few months back), tiny laptop (atop an old – 1930’s? – folding table) at my fingertips, immersed in the stunning beauty of nature, surrounded by an array of (what to me are) interesting, comfortable and somewhat unique accouterments of daily life, sipping fresh coffee (laced with just a touch of Irish Cream <smile>), fresh off a two week sojourn in Japan.

RANDOM NOTE: Add imaginary echo here, in a child-like girlish voice to replicate the lilt of my youngest daughter, Shawna, who is nearing 23, repeating the word as a cadenced mantra — “Japan… Japan, Japan, Japan… J-a-p-a-n” – which grew with daily intensity as we packed and prepared for the trip.

Adam (29), Josh (24), Shalom (27) and Shawna (22), siblings together in our 'trip of a lifetime' family vacation in Japan.

Adam (29), Josh (24), Shalom (27) and Shawna (22), siblings together on our family vacation in Japan.

And the two glorious weeks that we were together there, on a family-outing ‘trip of a lifetime’ were by even my most self-indulgent standards, saturated with decadent luxuries that gave great gobs of simple-pleasures to all involved. Truly amazing on so many levels, rippling through every dimension of life, and for which I am deeply thankful and tremendously appreciative of the good will and generosity of my children, without whom I would not have been able to make this trip… and who (for the most part <smile>) treated me like a queen and endured my persnickety ways with loving good grace and aplomb…

Thank you Adam, Shalom, Josh and Shawna for everything that each of you did to make our time together in Japan so phenomenally enjoyable. And thank you Patty (my eldest)… though you could not join us in Japan, we know you were with us in spirit…

Breakfast, prepared by my darling daughters and served al fresco to me on the back porch of my youngest son's apartment.

Breakfast — scrambled eggs with two kinds of tiny mushrooms and cheese and garnished with fresh (celery-like) greens, accompanied by pan-fried potatoes and onions and a warm buttered roll — prepared by my darling daughters and served al fresco to me on the back porch of my youngest son’s apartment as I did my morning computering.

Tales about all of which – from the nightmare of our flight getting there, to our day touring Buddhist temples and including the gastronomical and shopping delights we encountered along our way, I shall relate in dazzling detail  with more splendid photos in coming weeks… <grin>.

Posters are everywhere in the city. These were in a 9-story shopping and food mall on in Yokosuka.

Posters are everywhere in the city. These were just a few of those that bedecked the hallways of a 9-story shopping and food mall in Yokosuka.

Right now, however, carrying forward the present moment and having elucidated the background harmony which carries the happy tune of my life, perhaps and hopefully you have sensed a glimmer of the awes and wonders that resonate in my little universe… the place where I live… the space where I make my home. And the profound joy that I feel just sitting here, absorbing the moment… super-saturated with the activity of simply being alive. Feeling so tremendously gratified to have — oh, so many years ago — started raising my family with the their successful adulthood clearly in mind.

Anyway, in the scope of my continuing present moments, I see some yard-work in my immediate future.

NOTE: It is phenomenally good to be home.

My youngest son, Josh, with some of his shipmates and friends, who assembled in Josh's honor at a local park (in the background is the retired Japanese battleship Mikasa, now a tourist attraction) for his Honorable Discharge and Reenlistment Ceremony, which he was totally secretive about and came as a complete surprise to the rest of us...!!! More about this as my Japan Chronicles unfold...!!! His superiors were VERY complimentary of Josh and also very appreciative that we (his family members) were present for the ceremony because it is such a rarity to have a sailor's kin present for such events. We each were given an official Certificate of Appreciation from the Navy, signed by the Captain of his ship, to thank us for our support of Josh's service to the Navy. And the officers, senior enlisted crew members and his peers were all HUGELY complimentary of Josh... saying to me personally what an outstanding person he is, how great he is to work with and how appreciative they are of having him around.

My youngest son, Josh (front row, 4th from the right), with some of his shipmates and friends, who assembled in Josh’s honor at a local park (in the background is the retired Japanese battleship Mikasa, now a tourist attraction) for his Honorable Discharge and Reenlistment Ceremony, which he was totally secretive about and came as a complete surprise to the rest of us…!!! More about this and lots more good news next time, as my Japan Chronicles unfold…!!!

(((hugs))) ~Christine

 

What if… January 1, 2012

Filed under: CIVICS 101,COMMUNITY,EDITORIAL — gozarks @ 10:37 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

What if today was ‘the day after’ ALL of our problems had been solved?

What if the multinational headlines were shouting glad tidings, that finally and at along last every person had a secure and comfortable home, all were well fed, good health was rampant, the arts were flourishing and that the people of the planet were all indeed prospering in all things….

What would YOU be doing…???

How would you fill your time…???

If there truly was nothing more to complain about… nothing to hurt us… nothing for us to rail against… truly, what would you do…???

And by ‘you’ I mean all of us, of course. Because really, if you seriously think about it, without pain and fear our whole system of ‘survival’ would…. whoops… I almost typed one of the ‘flag’ words supposedly being spidered by our Office of Homeland Security which, according to the news report I heard on network TV the other day, can get a post flagged for further inspection, thoughts about which make me cringe at so many levels that I must resist the urge to further digress.

Because my point is what if we — as a society — were finally able to muster the strength, courage, determination and fortitude to start behaving with decency, courtesy, respect, integrity, virtue and convivial regard for each other, all the time… which is (I assert with sublime confidence) what things will ‘look like’ the day after all the problems are solved.

There will be no more hatred because each person will have made the uniquely independent choice to extinguish hatred by treating all (not just some) others in the same manner as preferred, desired and enjoyed by self.

So again I gently ask, What will you be doing when this is how the whole world works…???

And what are you doing now, during this inbetween time, to bring the vision to life…???

Have a look at what the folks at Dreaming New Mexico are doing…

Are you ready to thrive…???

Come visit me on gozarks… Let’s get ‘er done…!!!  (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

Abuse October 13, 2011

Been too long since I’ve taken time to reflect, assimilate and digest. Contrary to profuse and numberous distractions, however, life is good — at least in the grander sense and bumps in the road aside.

For reasons related to a lot of things I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ‘abuse’…. what it is… that is, what defines it… where is the line crossed? what are the objective dimensions of that line and where does subjective experience enter in…?

What I’ve arrived at: it seems that we — society as a whole, that is — have developed a type of cognitive dissonance about what we classify (or not) as ‘abusive’… and how we deal with it. Take for example the actions taken by officials in Topeka, Kansas, to unadopt a local law on domestic violence due to a budget crunch… A sane person who has studied the facts would be hard put not to wonder why ‘domestic violence’ (which typically victimizes women and children) was targeted and not, let’s say, the prosecution of cannabis (marijuana) crimes where there is no victim involved?

What does this say about ‘us’ — the Great American Society? 

 And if actions really do speak louder than words, how do we turn this into a win/win/win….???

 

Happy New Year (?) January 4, 2011

Dead birds, dead fish, gas-fracking and earthquakes

The area included in and to the north of the rectangle is replete with 'gas-fracking' operations and high-pressure 'waste-water disposal' injection wells. Click thumbnail for larger map.

Here in the magnificient Ozarks, the annual old/new year’s transition included dead birds and fish. Lot’s of them. In/near the communities of Beebe and Ozark, which are about 100 miles apart on a roughly east/west line that somewhat parallels I-40/U.S. 64 and encompasses a large stretch of the Arkansas River, whereupon — midway inbetween — sits the Arkansas Nuclear One power-plant generator, and which also happens to be the approximate southern boundry of that region of Arkansas which is in the process of being commercially exploited for Fayettville Shale ‘gas-play’ profits, whereto dozens of complaints are being lodged about fouled drinking water and cluster earthquakes.

Still, we can all start the New Year happy because the experts have concluded that the tens-of-thousands of dead animals probably died as the result of somebody setting off fireworks. And boys will be boys, you know <smile>.  So there is really no cause for alarm.

Does anyone out there ever seriously contemplate Orwell’s “1984”? It was on cable last night. I cried at the end.

The problem (for me) is that I understand all the dimensions, aspects and peculiarities of the (arrogant, abusive, derogatory) ‘machismo’ (boys will be boys, do as I say, but not as I do) mind-set too well… and have come to grips with the reality that people who are driven by ‘competition’ and ‘possessiveness’ have either yet to cognitively mature or have some form of psychological impairment, and are thus doing what they are doing as a sort of knee-jerk pavlovian/reptillian/instinctural “fight, flight, feast, fuck’ reaction… with NO true intellectual comprehension (ie: reason, logic, depth-perception) about ‘why’ such behavior is (in practice of fact) detrimental to everything they ‘say’ they wish to attain.

I understand that such folks live every moment in a ‘reality’ filled with ‘inverse-opposites’ — where they say one thing and do something completely different… and are proud to announce such deviations from an accorded ‘game plan’ as ‘brilliant and absolutely essential’ in order to ‘win’ whatever it is that is sought… however, if some other person were to do exactly the same thing… their head would be on a platter.

And because I understand all this (dysfunctional behavior) as a form of ‘disability’ I do my best to avoid such mine-fields… or at least dance my way through them… <smile>.  However, at some point, where the health and well being of more than one person is at stake, all those affected must have an equal voice in the decision-making process or else we (the citizens) are defacto living under the rule of a ‘dictatorship’…

Which is exactly and precisely ‘the core of the real problem’ we grapple with as a soicety today, whether it is the abject flummox delivered by the people we pay to be ‘experts’ on things like ‘fracking’, whether we pay them to protect and serve us with tax dollars, or directly out-of-pocket when we fill our cars with gasoline, their apparent oblivian to the harm they are wrecking economically, environmentally, and culturally, bespeaks of their own impotence.

And if we citizens fail to eradicate this ‘machismo’ (cover-up) of this obsessiively corrup problem from the microcosm of our everyday dealings, what hope is there for the whole of humankind? Which, by the way, is the point of “HOAX: Manifesto of the Marijuana Prisoners Committee To End the War On Drugs,” a 72-page PDF, authored by Inmate9, now available (free) at inmate9.blogspot.com .  ~~~

 

SeaSprites June 21, 2010

Tonight will likely be our last night in sunny/misty/foggy California, ending our quest for the last two days to camp in a place ‘by the beach’, optimally with some sun.  

Shawna sunbathing by the pool where we overnighted in Santa Barbara.

Shawna sunbathing by the pool where we overnighted in Santa Barbara.

  

Last night we camped in Santa Barbara. Very posh and pleasantly sunny, though unseasonably cool when we checked in, looking forward to a stroll on the beach just around the corner.  

Hunger called, however, so we set off to find dinner and ended up at an ornately bedecked and lavishly bedazzled India-cuisine restaurant in the heart of the tourist-trade district on (I think it was) Central St.  

The atmosphere was enchanting, lavish with tapestry ceiling and intricately carved woods. The presentation and service were charming and professional. Sadly for me, however, though I am certain the food was superbly prepared, I have never been a fan of curry and my hopes that perhaps my tastes had changed proved futile.  

View looking east from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

View looking east from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

  

Still, I reserved this news until Shawna — who was getting a first taste of the distinctive flavors — had finished her meal… or should I say stopped nibbling at it, sighed, and demurred that at least she liked the rice.  

View looking west from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

View looking west from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

 When I gave her the news that I’d never been a big fan of India food she, with raised eyebrow, enquired as to why I had not objected before we’d dined… and I told her that I wanted her to experience the tastes for herself, without my prejudicial influence. She smiled and said something like, yeah… but you coulda told me and I woulda believed you. To which I responded, sure… but now you know for yourself.  

What she did not get to know for herself, however, was that longed-for walk on the beach which was postponed after dinner last night, ostensibly until this morning. But with the fresh daylight, the sky was overcast and the breeze nearly chilly. So we headed on down the coast.Wending our way, making several wrong turns, keeping close to the seashore, we managed to find a motel that is right on Hermosa Beach. Not nearly so splendiferous in accoutrement, and nestled alongside a mixed residential and business district, the beach is literally right outside our door, the sun shines brightly and Shawna is enthralled!!!!