An end, a beginning 〜 終了、そして、開始

Look closely.  It is a person bundled up against the cold.  He or she has been sitting on that blue sheet all night.  No, this is not a homeless person, but rather, someone taking part in an important spring ritual here in Japan.  He or she is a place holder in a park where later in the day friends will join for “hanami” or a cherry blossom viewing party.  Since the blossoms don’t follow the calendar, hanami parties often miss the actual peak and can be held under really miserable conditions.  But Japanese people are fanatics for the season, which is also an end and a beginning.  Schools and universities hold graduation ceremonies in late March, and then turn around a week or two later and welcome their incoming students in early April.  So, the annual riot of cherry blossoms comes right around this turning point, which makes them all the more poignant.  Kids leave their classmates and move on to other schools or jobs under the cherry blossoms.  Retirees say goodbye to long-time colleagues during the drifting of the petals.


Rikkyo University is no exception to the March-April turning point, of course.  I said farewell to an excellent senior class in the choir.  I will miss their musical talents, as well as their bright personalities.  You can sense the latter in these photos, can’t you?  Here they are.  Well done, seniors!  Come back often to visit!

Tomorrow and the following day (April 4-5) Rikkyo University holds its seven entrance ceremonies at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space.  The choir, glee club, and university orchestra are on duty, as am I, the conductor for the ceremonies.


Yesterday was Sunday (April 2), my last chance to visit a local church before the choir resumes its duties in the university chapel.  One of my colleagues will take services at Tokyo’s All Saints Anglican Church on a monthly basis, so I joined the service there.  The church was a surprising find, squashed in between modern houses and apartment buildings.  The poor thing hasn’t been painted for an eon, and looks in a sad state from the outside.  But once inside, the visitor is surprised by the beauty of the space.  It’s surprisingly light and airy, and is decorated by paintings done by a parishioner.  Here is the exterior and interior of All Saints Church:


As is my usual practice, I walked the 7 km to the church, and then another 4 back to the university, stopping of for lunch in a place who’s mascot is a huge poodle.  He wanders the restaurant freely, greeting diners, and then plopping down on the outside deck to watch the street scene.  I wanted to take him home.  For a couple of minutes, anyway.


On my way back I passed through two beautiful temples.  After all, one shouldn’t be partial to a certain religion over others, should they?  After the morning spent in the Christian zone, I figured an hour or so in a temple would be a perfect balance, so to speak.  And they are so photogenic!


That is about all for this overly-long post.  I will close by posting a few photos from a spring break walking date with “the wife.”  We strolled over to the very retro (read, slightly tatty) Oyama Happy Road Shopping Arcade for coffee and some photo time.  Here is what we saw.



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