Sunday, February 24, 2013

Thoughts from Kyoto

I just got back from a trip to Japan to see my daughter Kate who’s studying at Ferris University for her junior year. I loved seeing her and spending time with her after being apart for nearly 6 months!

Kate and I met on a Friday afternoon at Narita Airport (near Tokyo) and set off for Kyoto the next day. Why Kyoto? Well, obviously because Kyoto (specifically, a particular Buddhist temple in Kyoto) finished as a finalist in the “New 7 Wonders of the World” competition. Plus, a couple of other Kyoto sites made it into a book called 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. With that much printed peer-pressure, it was hard to imagine going anywhere else.

Here are a couple of journal entries from the trip …



Sitting on the floor of a hotel room

with my back against the door.

Sitting Indian style and praying.

Sitting in the dark, surrounded by a thin halo of light from the hallway

because I don’t want to wake my daughter at this early hour.

She’s on Japan time.

I’m on America time.

And this sitting reminds me, for some reason, of all the devotionals of my youth

where we parked our butts

on basketball courts

or on logs around a campfire

or on living-room rugs

and sang “Have You Seen Jesus My Lord?”

and discussed the dangers of gossip.

Sitting until our knees grew stiff and our feet fell asleep

while we learned about God and His kingdom.

And thinking back on all of those times

and realizing

that it was worth the discomfort of all that



Through the power of Facebook, Taro—an old friend from Harding—noticed that I was heading in his direction.  He messaged me, and I messaged him back, and we did this about 20 times until we eventually came up with a meet-for-dinner plan.

On Monday night, Kate and I met Taro at a department store in the Kyoto shopping district, and we walked over to a restaurant that specialized in yakitori (grilled chicken).  Once inside, we settled in on one side of the bar, while the kitchen and wait staff diligently worked on the other side.  In the whole place, I noticed only one person who didn’t speak any Japanese—a geeky, middle-aged guy from Virginia (a.k.a. me).

Taro and I spent most of dinner catching up the last 25 years … from marriage and kids to the ups-and-downs of professional life, we covered all the bases.  To hear him tell the story of cheering for the Harding Academy football team while watching the state championship game online, well that was truly heartwarming.

In that evening with Taro and Kate, I got a big taste of Japanese cuisine … and a little taste of what heaven will be like … and I am grateful.


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