Here is our train. This model is the "Hayabusa" or Peregrine Falcon. My companion, Adachi-san, and I boarded this train in the morning at Tokyo Station for the first leg of the journey.
The train took us as far as Morioka, North of Sendai and the Prefectural seat of Iwate Perfecture. Iwate was one of the two hardest hit prefectures by the tsunami.
Tokyo Union Church has three "sister" churches in the Tohoku region, one of which is Miyako Community Church. My trip had been arranged between Adachi-san and Iwatsuka-sensei, the pastor of that church. This church is independent and thus, not supported by other denominations.
Iwatsuka-sensei, two years since the disaster, has been more involved in community service than in his own church affairs. Thus, the quilting activity was set up to serve the community.
From Morioka, we took a local bus, several hours further to the towards the coastal area of Miyako, where the damage was hardest. Reverend Iwatsuka picked us up at the bus terminal and drove us around, showing the damaged areas and the place where the classes were to be held the following day.
One can still see the base settings of the houses that were washed away by the tsunami. The school building in the distance was inundated on the first floor.
The main road will be re-built further inland.
There will be no buildings in that disaster area.
The port area will have a higher sea-wall and the broken sections will be replaced using a stronger design with a wider base.
To the upper right are the buildings of a fish-processing factory built after the disaster.
When my weekend activities are over, I will share with you the class experience, but before I end here, I wanted to share one other facet of the trip.
In Japan, we are very sensitive to the changing of seasons. Whether early or late, spring marches in in an orderly fashion. Late winter brings the Camellia, February the Plum and Apricot blossoms open in turn, then the Sweet Daphne and the Daffodils. Even each variety of Cherry has a time to be enjoyed without competition from other blossoms.
I really didn't know what clothing to pack because the area had had snow just a week or so earlier, so I was stunned to arrive to a place where spring was in "attack mode". It seems all those blossoms had waited so long to spring forth that they couldn't wait and take turns.
These were mixed with plum and peach.
Kerria and Azaleas,
Magnolias in the garden with Daffodils at their feet,
Baby's Breath in the background,
And high on the hill-side, wild Wisteria, festooning the trees.
And, cheering them on, the voice of the Bush Warbler, in Tokyo, a harbinger of Spring.
BUT, mixed with that, the voice of the Little Cuckoo,
which usually arrives in the Tokyo area in June, in time to parasitize the Bush Warbler's second breeding.
(In front is one of the two Chinese missionaries from Arizona, who spent a night there, and attended the quilting session as well.
Accommodation was fairly quiet and comfortable as I am accustomed to sleeping on futons, but my brain could not shut off as I anticipated the following days of teaching ... would my Japanese be adequate ... had I prepared well enough ... would I meet the expectations of the group? Knowing of the sincere prayers of my friends, I finally was able to grab a few hours of rest.
More to follow......