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The Unitarian Universalist President toured Japan as a guest of the Buddhist Rissho Kosei-kai and International Association for Religious Freedom. He spoke at the 75th anniversary of the RKK founding, participated in Buddhist services in Hiroshima, visited Shinto religious partners and participated in memorial services on the anniversary of the tsunami.

TRANSCRIPT

  • Japan

    Interfaith diplomatic trip visiting members of the

    International Association for Religious Freedom

    March 2 - 12, 2012

    Rev. Peter Morales, UUA PresidentMrs. Phyllis Morales

    Dea Brayden, Special Assistant to the President

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Tokyo Rissho Kosei-kai, Buddhist Dojin Universalist Church

    Kyoto Mutsumi-Kai, Shinto Shrine Ittoen Community Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Shinto

    Osaka Konko Church of Izuo, Shinto

    Hiroshima Peace Museum and Memorial Rissho Kosei-kai Dharma Center, Buddhist Aki Myajima Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

    Suzuka Tsubaki Grand Shrine

    Kaimichi and Otsuchi Rissho Kosei-kai Dharma Center, Buddhist Tsunami devastated area

    Sendai Rissho Kosei-kai Dharma Center, Buddhist Tsunami devastated area

    Sendai

    Kaimichi

    Osaka

    TokyoSuzuka

    KyotoHiroshima

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Tokyo

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Great Sacred Hall of the Buddhist Rissho Kosei-Kai (RKK) in Tokyo. RKK was formed in 1938 as a lay led Buddhist religious organization and now has six million members. The Rissho Kosei-Kai have been interfaith partners with Unitarian Universalists since the 1960s. Peter was the only outside speaker at this Founders Day Celebration.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • There was much ceremony and pageantry with an orchestra and choir. Chairman Watanabe led part of the readings.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Peters speech of congratulations and offering of continued friendship and collaboration is translated and broadcast worldwide.

    After last years tsunami, donations from UU churches were distributed through our Japanese interfaith partners and particularly the RKK to help with their recovery efforts.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • We visit the small, mostly empty Dojin Universalist church on the outskirts of Tokyo that was founded in the 1860s but has been in decline. They run a school for income.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Our trip was planned and guided by the Rissho Kosei-kais office of international affairs. We were shepherded throughout Japan via bullet trains, planes and vans by our cheerful and competent hosts.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Kyoto

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Although tourist attractions werent on our schedule, our hosts squeezed in an hour to see the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple complex in Kyoto. The boys are catching water from a sacred spring that has run for thousands of years. The walkway to the temple is lined with shops of pretty things.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • In Kyoto, we meet with the Mutsumi-Kai Shinto Shrine, members of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) that was created within the last two generations by a visionary leader. Here we are participating in a Shinto ceremony of purification.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Another IARF member, the Ittoen Community in Kyoto. is an intentional community that runs a private school and has beautiful grounds. This is also a relatively new organization.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Osaka

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • In Osaka, we meet with the leaders of the Shinto Konko Church of Izuo, tour the grounds, make offerings in the sanctuary and renew connections.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Hiroshima

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Then on to Hiroshima where our RKK hosts pick us up again. This building, the A-Bomb Dome, was one of the few that survived the blast somewhat and was left as a memorial.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • We toured the Hiroshima Museum full of many gruesome details. The devastation from last years tsunami is reminiscent of that from the atomic bomb.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Peter laid a wreath at the Peace Memorial and a lot of pictures with our RKK hosts were taken.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Peter speaks at the RKK Hiroshima Dharma Center (church) about waging peace through getting to know one another as friends. The Unitarian Universalists are the only interfaith partner of the RKK in North America. They were deeply touched by the caring expressed through the donations for the tsunami recovery and our visit.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • After the service, we shake everyones hands. After having seen Peters talk broadcast from the Great Sacred Hall, he is quite the celebrity and they are thrilled that he will reach out to them personally.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Our RKK hosts take us on a ferry boat ride to Miyajima island site of the Aki Myajima Itsukushima Shinto Shrine. Dea Brayden, Special Assistant to the UUA President, keeps track of everyones name, is the liaison with the trip planners and takes many beautiful pictures.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • The shrine is a complex of buildings built over the tidelands. Right now the tide is out but when its in it comes up to the boardwalk. The Chief Priest meets us and gives us a tour.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • This is the huge gateway standing solidly, somehow, in sand.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Peter is dressed for the Shinto ceremony.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Suzuka

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • After a long train ride to Suzuka, we arrive in the evening at the Tsubaki Grand Shrine in a mountainous area with towering cedar trees. We do the ritual cleansing of hands before entering the grounds.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • We meet with the Chief Priest, Guji Yamamoto, and observe a Shinto ceremony including a dance. This shrine is over 2,000 years old and has been passed down within the family for 96 generations. It serves thousands of visitors a year.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Peter, Phyllis and Dea all participate in the Shinto cleansing and renewal ritual under a waterfall. The water is a chilly 45 F and forceful due to recent rains. Frog statues line the rock walls as symbols of rebirth. This is Peter under the waterfall following the priests ritual movements and chants.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Kamaichi

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Our Rissho Kosei-kai hosts accompany us on a flight over snow covered mountains to a small airport in a northern city and we are then driven two hours to the town of Kamaishi. The beautiful road goes through numerous tunnels.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • This is where we start seeing the effects of the tsunami. This is the view of the town from our hotel which was inundated to the second floor and just recently reopened for business.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • An enormous amount of clean up has been done with mountains of rubble to show for it. Buildings are still in the process of being torn down.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • We visit a resort town that was totally destroyed. One of the few remaining buildings was this evacuation center where 100 people had fled after the earthquake. The first wave broke through the second floor windows. We lay flowers at a makeshift altar. Above, volunteers from another part of Japan are helping with the debris clean up.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • This 18 year old young man, Takao Kawasaki, told of surviving the first wave by climbing the drapes and having the water come within 20 cm of the ceiling before it subsided. He tried to help the dying and when the second wave hit, he climbed the wires into the ceiling. Sixty of the 100 occupants died. The others huddled together in the freezing cold for a couple of days until they could be rescued by helicopter from the roof.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • In this second floor room of the evacuation center where people had taken refuge in vain, a musician is playing in memory of a lost loved one.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • We drove to an overlook above another town, Otsuchi, that was totally destroyed. The mayor and councilmen were meeting to deal with the effects of the enormous earthquake and were drowned by the tsunami. A 24 year old young woman was radioing emergency notices about the danger of the tsunami over and over until she was overtaken.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • We participated in a memorial service at the Rissho Kosei-kai Dharma Center. People bring offerings of things their loved ones enjoyed and read letters to them during the service.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Peter speaks words of condolence and hope and one of the RKK ministers spoke of the importance of living this life with no regrets.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Each congregant lays a flower on the alter and the 400 names of the dead and missing members of the Dharma Center are read. Messages to loved ones written on small cards hang in groups.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • In a more celebratory mood, Peter sticks a Standing on the Side of Love bumper sticker on the cars that were bought with UUA donations and we pose for a photo op. The cars are used for recovery efforts in this area. The Dharma center housed and fed hundreds of people for several months after the tsunami until temporary housing could be established.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • Sendai

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • We drive to the large city of Sendai. Although the center of the city was not damaged, the buildings on coastal flatlands were washed away. There is nothing left but foundations. Sandbags and a tree de-limbed at a second floor level leave a pitiful reminder of the enormity of the waves from which it was impossible to escape.

    Tuesday, June 26, 12

  • After a memorial service in the Sendai Dharma Center, we attend another on