Sunday, October 21, 2018

# 1 -- THANK YOU!

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Three Book Omni Edition is a box set containing Book One, Coming Home; Book Two, Chasing Dreams and Book Three, Together.

This book is in e-format only, available on Kindle at Amazon.

It was on special through today (depending on what side of the International Date Line you're on) and was also's Book of the Day on October 19.

And it hit number 1 in its category on Amazon, so it's an official #1 Best Seller.

Welcome to all the new readers!

You'll also enjoy Book 4, Uncle Yuta has an Adventure and Book 5, Noriko's Journey.  I am starting Book 6, working title Renko's Challenge, right now.  Have fun with this series -- I certainly am.

Thank you all so very much for making the Box Set a success.  Do enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them -- and do leave reviews.  Short is fine. Short is great. Besides providing feedback, something I value, reviews tell the computer innards at various retailers what to do -- something I have no control over.  I almost called them Ghosts in the Machine -- but I'd be a lot more comfortable with ghosts!

Again, thank you.  Keep flying!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Like a candle

I was fortunate enough to go on a pilgrimage to Taiseki-ji, the head Temple of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, of which I am a member, this last weekend.

It's always wonderful, but this was my first official Tozan as a Japanese member.  Tozan is the word we use for a pilgrimage.  It's also used for mountain climbing -- it means "to climb the mountain" and in the case of a pilgrimage, the mountain is enlightenment.  It's the only native-to-Japanese pun I know.

As so often happens, it was full of significant experiences.

Here's one.

Many Temples use oil candles.  They look like wax candles and have actual flames, but they are china, hollow, and filled with lamp oil into which a wick is inserted.  They pose much less risk of fire and don't spatter wax all over, either.

Evening Gongyo, the evening practice service, was at 5:30.  The Chief Priest, a small man who looks deceptively elderly and fragile, with Coke-bottle glasses, came bustling in at 5:26.  There are a few things that need doing to prepare for this service, including removing the morning water offering, lighting incense and lighting the candles.  Often there's an electric candle, too, that gets switched on with the lights, but this day, we were having oil candles, too.
He trimmed the wicks and refilled the candles, then he lit them.  The one on the right from my view didn't take.  It seemed to go on and off, sputtering and flaring alternately, and looking like it was going out, then flaming more brightly.

I couldn't help glancing at it.

It seemed to me that this was like our Buddhist practice.  Our lives wax and wane with obstacles and successes, but over time that's how we attain enlightenment.

By the end of Gongyo, it was burning brightly.  I hope that we all do.

More Hokkaido Photos

Well, I sure hope so.

At that time, the late 1800s, taxidermy was a popular method of collecting and preserving specimens of animals, insects and birds so that people who lived where those beings didn't would be able to see them.  Taxidermy exhibits are all over Hokkaido museums.  Some of the specimens represent beings now extinct, so I guess it's not all bad.  This is very strange today, since we have photography and also the ability to transport and house living specimens.  The sea eagle and the crane are from a museum in the Hokudai botanical gardens.  That's a very interesting place, and the two museums on the grounds are well worth the trip alone.  They have the only authentic period films of Ainu ceremonies that I encountered.  Today, Ainu people (and everybody else on Hokkaido) celebrate and
share Ainu culture and art for tourism and entertainment as well as cultural preservation purposes.  The music and dance are wonderful!  The wood and fabric art are well worth a look. The history of the Ainu and the other northern people, with their trade routes, cultural interactions and incredibly wide rage shows how people lived quite well in inhospitable climates.  Yes, they did have skis!

The building is another period farm house, and the little streetcar is the one the horse pulls!  The horse is not abused at all.  He seemed to quite enjoy pulling the street car, gets a break after every run of the short track, and trades off with his buddy.  Do NOT worry about the horse!

This village is a little hard to get to without a car -- many places in Hokkaido are like that -- but there is a bus, and I took it!  There's also a cafe where they have many wonderful things, including the ubiquitous potatoes served with butter.  Hokkaido potatoes are creamy and delicious, and the butter is excellent!  The ones I order are usually roasted.  Wonderful!

Hokudai and the Tondenhai

At the end of the 19th Century, William S. Clark came to Hokkaido by invitation.  His mission was to found a University and establish agriculture.  He did both.  What's fascinating to me is how much of what he established during his brief term resembles what was going on in Seattle at the same time.
Since there were a lot of unemployed samurai in mainland Japan at that time, and Hokkaido needed both warriors and farmers, the Tondenhei program was established to address those problems and needs.
These pioneers not only gave Hokkaido Japanese wa-jin pioneer settlers, but also a population of soldiers who could be called upon at need.  This is rather like Switzerland's citizen-soldier system, and may have been adopted from there. Japan's really good at adopting the useful.
Wa-jin people are what we think of as ethnic Japanese, not just people who are citizens.  The indigenous Ainu people were almost immediately made citizens.  Their restoration as indigenous people is very recent.
Between 1875 and 1877 about 2000 of these Tondenhai settlers arrived.  Men were assigned to regiments, given cold-weather uniforms, and families were allocated 8 acre homesteads.
On the Hokkaido University campus, there are demonstration farms and dairy barns.  Hokudai is the popular name of the University.  It's a lovely campus.  The farms and barns are oh-so-familiar to me, because my ancestors were doing pretty much the same thing in parts of the US northwest.
There is also one of Japan's great outdoor museums.  This is an artificial village made by moving historic buildings, many donated by families, from the original sites.  It's fun!
Here are some pictures.

Here are the horse who pulls the streetcar (there are two who trade off), interior of a Tondenhai house, the exterior, and here is William Clark, whose famous motto, "Boys, be ambitious," is still seen everywhere.  There were, of course, no girls at the university in those days.  Empress Shoken was instrumental in forwarding the rights and education of women, though, and it looked about 50-50 on the lovely campus now.