Fantastic Voyage

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: The importance of looking to the past to shape the future

Nothing makes my eyes glaze over more than the words: “When I was young…” I dislike going on trips of nostalgia through rose-tinted glasses, mostly because it sounds like an accusation heaved at my generation. And not only that, but it’s often unfounded. According to Steven Pinker’s “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, […]

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: 20 thoughts of 2020

Here are an assortment of my thoughts, some serious, some not, about the past year: • Skills I gained this year: I am better at teleconferencing, gardening and washing my hands. • If someone from 2019 told me those were the skills I would acquire, I would’ve been really confused. • I actually don’t think […]

FANTASTIC VOYAGE: Making my voice heard, even from Japan

On Aug. 28, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his retirement due to health reasons, and Sept. 16, less than three weeks later, his successor Yoshihide Suga had been named and installed as the new Japanese prime minister. The political system in Japan is such that the prime minister is not determined by popular vote. […]

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 […]

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