Our Book

1985/7 Japan

Kyoto
27 October 1985, Sunday
Posted 30.10.85; received 05.11.85

So hello. I made it through the week. And I’ve taught my first four lessons. And received confirmation that I can move into my room on the 31st. And received three letters from home. And my ‘boss’ has just presented me with a beautiful wooden doll from Hiroshima. For no good reason at all!

Thank you for those letters. Yes, it was a clear line, wasn’t it, dad. Typical of the Japanese, I think. They’re very efficient. If you have a train to catch at 8:51 and you get there at 8:50 you know you still have EXACTLY one minute to spare. 

I taught three lessons on Friday evening – getting paid $60 for three hours’ work! Good grief. One class of 9-12 year olds (3 of them), one private lesson to 16 year old Mitsu whose English is very good, and one class of giggly 13-15 year olds. This third class was the only one I found somewhat taxing. Their English doesn’t seem at all good. And the boys especially were very silly.

The brother of the girl from whom I got the job connection still works for Mr Morimoto. So he and I went out for a drink after ‘school’ – to a pub where they show English movies. Worth knowing for future reference.

On Saturday I went to a holy Buddhist Hall. (Enclosed photos.) What a fantastic place. The Hall dates from 1266 and honours Kannon, a Buddhist image with 11 faces and 1000 arms. If you look closely each statue has ten other faces on top of their heads. And each has several pairs of arms although not all 1000 are shown. The statues are carved from wood and then plated in gold. There is a large central image flanked on either side by 500 smaller statues. Thus 1001 images of Kannon in all. Each statue has a different face. And the whole group look pretty impressive in the light filtering through the paper screens that make up one wall of the Hall.

While at the Hall I bought a Temple Book. These books consist of several blank pages and at every temple you go to you will find calligraphers who paint the name of the temple and the date you visited/worshipped onto one of the pages for you. It’s a nice idea and with the vast number of temples in this country I should have no trouble in filling my book.

After my 9am class today I went to visit a temple here in Sojiji (between Kyoto and Osaka where Morimoto lives). I was escorted there by five shy schoolgirls and spent a good hour wandering around the grounds – which included a main temple, several smaller temples and two Shinto shrines. The Shinto and Buddhist religions seem to be inextricably linked in Japan. And I’m still grappling with their complexities and symbols. Mr M is a tour guide by day and has said I can sit in on his classes to other tour guides. Where he teaches Japanese history and culture etc in English. I think he will prove to be a goldmine of information. 

I have three more lessons this evening. When I get more hours I will probably drop the 9am class as I otherwise have six hours to spare here. Mr M did suggest, however, that I choose a place to see and take some of his students sightseeing with me so that they can practice their English. He will pay me $7 per hours to do this. So I may use it as a filler for awhile.

I will send you my new address next week. In the meantime Poste Restante will do, OK.

Take care now. Good luck with your exams, mom. Love to Oupa and the Paynes and yourselves.
Gail

Sanjusangendo Hall
Sanjusangendo Hall
Soji-ji
Soji-ji
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