Fantastic Voyage

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: The lesson I learned at a Black Lives Matter Peace March in Osaka

On June 7, I participated in a Black Lives Matter Peace March in Osaka. The event was boosted by a retweet from tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, for which she took a lot of heat. But despite the polarizing nature of the event, I learned a lot, although the lesson I walked away with was not […]

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: Cross-culture parenting

Parents face many tough questions when it comes to raising a child: what to do about bed-times, allowance, screen-time, punishments, afterschool activities, diet, religion, and more. You also have to be careful about the different parenting styles such as the tiger parents, the helicopter parents, the snowplow parents, etc. Adding to the problem are the […]

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: New Year’s cards (Nengajo)

In Japan, sending New Year’s greetings cards (nengajo) is a big deal. It’s much like the American tradition of sending Christmas cards, except in Japan there is $820 million dollars in postage sent on the one day. History of New Year’s cards Giving New Year’s greetings cards has been a tradition in Japan since ancient […]

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: What is Obon for a Buddhist reverend in Japan?

The word Obon in America, and the word in Japan, are two very different things. Many people in America link Obon to the street festivals and dancing that takes place in Japantowns and Buddhist temples. However, Obon in Japan is a big cultural holiday, much like Christmas without the commercialization. Many people take the day […]

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: Looking back, looking forward: Traditions on the decline

I’ve been teaching English in Japan for a long time, and around New Year’s, I always ask students if they eat osechi ryori. Out of the 50 or so elementary school students that I asked this year, about half said “no.” Given that it’s a very small sample size in a remote part of Japan, […]

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: Obon in Japan, compared to America

I’d been trying to think of how to compare Obon festivals in Japan and America, but for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on, it was very difficult. On the surface there are many similarities; however, the role of the temple in America is very different than that of Japan, so to properly understand […]

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: The process of becoming a better minister

Happy New Year! It has been two years since I last wrote, and in that time I finished my Buddhist training and have become an assistant minister in my village. It’s pretty difficult because as I was told: Being a minister is not a job, it’s a lifestyle; there’s no clocking out. But it is […]

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: Becoming a monk

Waking up at 5:30 a.m. has never been my thing. And waking up in a temple, throwing on monk robes and saying Buddhist chants for an hour on my knees when it’s snowing outside is also not usually my thing; but it’s what I found myself doing last winter. A couple of years ago, I […]

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: The road to naturalization in Japan

Few things in life are irrevocable, but renouncing your citizenship from the U.S. is one of them. And yet that is what I plan to do in order to gain Japanese citizenship. The words sound so crazy, and I always feel like I have to explain my reasoning right away, even though I’m sure most […]

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: ‘99 Nen no Ai’ – A popular Japanese drama about Japanese Americans

Any Japanese American would immediately understand what you meant if you said 442nd, E.O. 9066, or camp. But how many Japanese people living in Japan would know? Before November, not that many. However, in November, Tokyo Broadcasting System aired a drama in Japan called “99 Nen no Ai ~Japanese Americans~.” The drama was about the […]

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