This Sunday, March 6th, right after our pledge luncheon, I will board the California Zephyr train headed to San Francisco, and on Wednesday the 9th I will be flying to Japan for three weeks. I am the recipient of this year’s Tsubaki Grand Shrine Scholarship, and I will be sending two weeks as a guest in Tsubaki Grand Shrine, one of the oldest and largest Shinto shrines in Japan, with a long association with the Unitarian Universalist Association, followed by a week of travel to Kyoto and Kamakura. This scholarship is a major honor, and I will be writing about my experience while there (I hope) as well as when I return. Very few Westerners have an opportunity to learn about Shinto, the ancient, indigenous religion of Japan. If you want to follow my adventures, you can subscribe to Slipping Glimpser: Zen Wanderings and Wonderings. Just enter your email address on the right of the webpage.
As I was reading about the shrine, in preparation for my visit, I was amazed to discover that by sheer coincidence we had enacted an important story from that very place during our spectacular winter solstice pageant last December. Uzume, the dancing goddess who lures the sun goddess out of her cave, is enshrined at Tsubaki (which means “camellia” in Japanese). In other words, Tsubaki is considered her home. So I will make a special visit to where she is enshrined, and offer greetings from all of us here!
The second part of my journey will also be quite meaningful, I think. I have spent time in Kyoto before, and have some friends there, and this will be my first visit to Kamakura. Kamakura is where the Zen convent of Tokeiji is still located, an imperial nunnery where many of the most powerful stories in The Hidden Lamp take place. For 800 years no man entered the gates of Tokeiji, and it was one of only two places in Japan where a woman fleeing her marriage could find refuge and obtain a divorce. Most of the abbesses were women from the imperial family.
I return on March 30th. I will have some email contact while traveling, but unless it is urgent, I will get back to you after I return. Have a wonderful month, and I will see you in April!