2009 Archive


The Henro Trail leading from Yashimaji Temple to Yakuriji Temple was extremely steep, but everyone made it to the base of the mountain without injury.


DSCF1054.jpgLunch was held at an udon restaurant along the Henro Trail on the way to Yakuriji Temple.

IMG_0465.jpgThough the path leading up to Yakuriji Temple was also extremely steep, the participants all climbed it with lots of energy.



IMG_0476.jpgWe were allowed to enter into one of the rooms at Yakuriji Temple, where we were met by the Assistant Head Priest, who read a Buddhist sutra for us.  We all then folded our hands in prayer.




IMG_0482.jpgAfter the sutra, we heard a lecture about general points concerning the Henro Pilgrimage, the origins of the names "Yakuri" and "Gokenzan" (the name of the mountain on which the temple is located), and an explanation of the deities enshrined at the temple, Shōden and Chūshōbō.



IMG_0487.jpgThe Assistant Head Priest explained one of the symbols for Shōden is daikon, and that if you pray to this god, you will become healthy and wealthy. 


IMG_0483.jpgThe participants all received o-settai (hospitality for Pilgrims) and were given amazake (a sweet, lightly fermented drink made of rice).  It was quite tasty!

We were blessed again with good weather on this Henro Experience, and we had a successful day without any mishaps.  We hope that all of the participants will come away with good memories of the hike.  We would like to thank everyone at Yakuriji Temple for their hospitality.  You can see essays, poems, and written impressions from the participants, right here on the ipalog!

We held the 4th Shikoku 88-Temple Circuit Experience for Foreign Residents and Guests on Saturday, November 28, 2009. On this hike, we walked from Yashimaji Temple to Yakuriji Temple.  Perhaps it was because of the warm early winter, but the Japanese maples were at their best, died a deep red in color.  Also, with the leaves from the zelkova trees falling all around us, it made for a wonderful scene on this Henro Pilgrimage experience.  With six participants from the United States, three from China, two from the U.K., one from Ireland, one from Canada, one from Kenya, and one from New Zealand, a total of 15 people participated.


During the 3rd Henro Experience last May, we had several people join us from the Kenyan Embassy in Tokyo.  Continuing that precedent, we were again joined by a member of the Kenyan Embassy, Third Secretary Dorothy Nthiwa.  Walking is one of her hobbies.





IMG_0380.jpgMember of the Kenyan Embassy in Tokyo, Ms. Dorothy Nthiwa (center).  We introduced her to the group before heading off on the hike.




IMG_0393.jpgParticipants hiking toward the summit of Mt. Yashima:  While enjoying the beautiful autumn leaves, rare for this time of year, we hiked up the mountain.




We took a commemorative photograph in front of Yashimaji's Main Hall.  Everyone was dressed in the clothing of true pilgrims on the Henro Trail, and blended in nicely with the scenery along the roads of Sanuki.




After our commemorative picture, Assistant Director Katagiri of the Cultural Promotion Division, spoke to us about the history of the Henro Pilgrimage and the way in which you should pay your respects at the temples.  Assistant Director Katagiri (far left) has spoken to us about the Henro Pilgrimage during each of the Henro Experiences since the program's inception.



IMG_0422.jpgAfter the talk about the Henro Pilgrimage, everyone paid their respects at the Main Hall.


IMG_0439.jpgYashima is a historic site of one of the battles of the Genpei War (1180-1185).  Jeremy, a CIR at the Inernational Affairs Division, passed out materials that he had translated from Japanese to English and then he gave an explanation about the battle that occurred here over 800 years ago.  The location where he gave his talk is the famous tourist spot of "Shi-shi no Reigan," from which you can look out over the beautiful Seto Inland Sea.


IMG_0445.jpgAfterward, we had planned to have the participants write poems and haiku, while enjoying the beautiful view of the Seto Inland Sea National Park...but throwing kawarake (small clay disks thrown from high places while making a wish) seemed to find more of a following among the participants.  Chris (far right), a CIR with the International Affairs Division, explains the plan to write poems and haiku.




Participants throwing kawarake from Shi-shi no Reigan.

"Outdoor Exchange"

November 21, 2009:

I participated in an I-PAL Kodomo Club event called "Outdoor Exchange" that was put on by the Overseas Technical Trainees interning at I-PAL Kagawa along with several juniors from Kagawa University's Education Department.  In addition to a lecture that helped local children to know more about the culture of Brazil, we all played sports together as a means to help the children interact with various foreign residents.  After hearing the lecture from the Brazilian OTT members, we went outside and enjoyed some very fun games of "Dodge-bee" and "Capture the Flag."  Panting as we tried to keep up with the speedy youngsters, we all had a lot of fun!

H.E. Mr. McLean, the Ambassador of Australia visited a flour company and a frozen noodle company in Kagawa in order to inspect ASW (Australian flour) which is one of the ingredients in Sanuki Udon. He had udon for lunch. During the courtesy visit, he commented that he understands the reason why people come all the way to Kagawa just to eat Sanuki Udon.

The director general of EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation, who is also the counselor of delegation of the European Commission to Japan, visited Kagawa and had a courtesy visit with the Governor. He gave a lecture at the EU lecture meeting, co-sponsored by the Kagawa EU Association and the Kagawa Association of Corporate Executives.

November 1, 2009:

The International Festival 2009 was held with the theme of "Friends, Interaction, and Completing the Circle - 360° of Friends."  Among the various events of the Festival, there was a Choshitsu Lacquer Ware Workshop held inside of I-PAL Kagawa.  Hiroaki Matsubara-sensei instructed us in how to carve images of flowers, birds, plants, and trees into our pieces of wood covered in multiple layers of colored lacquer.  While art is something that often requires expert skill, and translating Matsubara-sensei's instructions for the participants was difficult, we were all able to better understand the finer points of Choshitsu Lacquer Ware and have a good time, too.
Although it rained on the day of the 2009 Kagawa International Festival, there were plenty of fun things to do through out the day. I represented America during the international stamp rally, made colorful "hand turkeys" drawings with kids at the craft corner, and, of course, I took lots of photos throughout the day.