Saturday, March 30, 2013

June 12, 1954 Osaka Castle, Iwashimizu Shrine and Myokian Temple

Dear Mother & Daddy,

"The past two weeks have been busy ones without our really getting very much done.  Our company has been here and left this morning.  With six extra people in the house it means a lot of extra work and confusion but the time went fast and the children got along well.  They broke the visit by going to Hiroshima and then she and the children came back here while he went on south.

This is the rainy season now and it does not rain every day as some of the pessimistic neighbors said.  It rains a lot and sometimes for several days in a row but when the sun comes out everything is glistening clean.  The ground dries quickly so we don't have lots of mud right here.  The country roads get awfully muddy so we can't walk them.  People say that sometimes it rains so much that things get moldy but our winter things are packed in a trunk ready for the trip home.  We have a good dry cleaner so we had everything cleaned and then got it all good and dry in the sun before putting them away.  The moths are thick here and we have to be careful that way too.  They fly around in all the houses this time of year and that is one of the first things one is warned about when coming here.

While our friends were here we all took a trip to an old feudal castle in Osaka.  It was built by a lord who was a very poor boy that had fought his way up as a warrior.  When he defeated the other warriors he commissioned them to send him huge stones from all over Japan.  The castle is made of these stones which are unbelievably big--some we estimate to be about 50 cubic feet.  They were carried by men across the land and floated on barges to Osaka.  The castle was built in the 1400s and is a tourist attraction now.  The deep well within the castle grounds was supposedly purified by the lord tossing in gold coins.


That same day we met three Japanese men and had lunch with them.  They are coming to America this fall under the Fulbright program to study American textile industries.  They all work in textile plants here.  One of them lives near us and asked me to help him practice his English.  I promised to help him but he has not called me yet.

I have my last painting lesson next week.  Some of the girls are leaving and since we have finished one whole book of lessons it is a good time to stop.  I have started some lessons in flower arranging even if I can't get but a few.  My teacher cannot speak a word of English so one of the missionaries goes with me to interpret.  I have bought some books on flower arranging so can teach myself a little.

This same missionary, a neighbor, and I had a real experience on last Thursday.  We went with some Japanese women far out in the country to a Shinto shrine and saw a special ceremony in which tea was prepared and offered to the spirits of a former emperor and empress.  By special permission I got to take pictures.  The day was very long and it rained all day long.  We left home at 7:00 in the morning and got back at 6.  It took three hours by train and then we climbed a mountain.  Steps of concrete have been built so it was not muddy climbing but I can't even guess at the number of steps but well into several hundred.  My knees were like jelly when we got to the top.  The women first paid their respects at the altar and then we were served special tea.

Then we went to the temple and the tea master posed for me and some newspaper photographers.  The place was big and there were lots of spectators but I had to go out in the very middle to get the pictures.  I could feel every eye on me as I walked back to my seat in my sock feet.  There wasn't a sound in that temple.  I guess they wondered what that silly American woman was doing there.  The real ceremony began with the sound of the flutes.  The priests--young and in snow white silk with shiny black wooden shoes that went clank, clank as they walked across the stone courtyard--carried in tray after tray filled with food and placed it at the altar.

There were vegetables, fruit, rice cakes, sweets, fish and rice wine.  Then the tea was made and offered to the gods.  The head priest chanted a poem and then priests and government officials took their turns at offering branches of the sacred tree.  All the food was carried out again by the priests and when they marched out it was over.

We went back to the tea house and ate the sandwiches we had taken along.  I was ready to come home but they took us to a very old tea house that is very famous and we had tea again.

To get there we had to ride the train, walk, and cross two rivers in flat bottom boats and all in the rain.  We must have looked awfully funny to the boatman.  The Japanese women wore kimono and we all had umbrellas.  The boats had no seats so we squatted.  I thoroughly enjoyed the day but I was completely exhausted when I got home.  The Japanese women were still going strong.

We haven't had much chance to rest with all our company so we are tired.  I am behind with my letters again but tell Beulah I'll try to answer before long."

                   Love to all,


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