Outlook 23
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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A trip to Japan
In Spring 2016 we joined an escorted tour of Japan to the main tourist attractions on Honshu, the largest of the Japanese islands. Beginning in Tokyo we visited Shinto and Buddhist shrines and the Imperial Castle. The ornate architecture and decoration of the shrines was very different from the often austere aspects of our own church buildings. Each shrine would have a number of booths where charms for almost anything could be purchased. Bells could be rung and people would cleanse and purify themselves with water and/or incense. We visited a number of World Heritage Sites – villages dating back 250 years, a Governor’s house in Takayama from the early nineteenth century, and a Samurai house in Kanazawa. Matsumoto Castle was stunning, constructed of stone and wood with a moat on two sides. Nijo Castle in Kyoto had a splendid black and gold gate leading to the main rooms. The strict hierarchical nature of a past society was apparent in the layout of the rooms and costumes of the figures on display. Hiroshima – a sombre feel The gardens in Japan were always beautiful and well-tended. We even saw a group of workers sweeping the stones of a stream bed to prevent them going green! A visit to the Memorial Peace Park and Museum in Hiroshima took place in pouring rain beneath thunderous skies, giving a sombre feel to this moving experience. Particularly poignant was the A-Bomb Dome, a building only partially destroyed by the blast and now preserved as a memorial. Our accommodation was on a B&B basis, with dinner taken in the hotel or a nearby restaurant. Lunch was invariably a ‘bento’ box purchased from a convenience store. These boxes contain sushi, vegetables and/ or noodles with sauces and pickles, and come complete with a paper napkin and disposable chopsticks. Todaiji Temple Matsumoto Castle