Monday, January 5, 2015

Jan. 11 Speech: The laity can’t really practice or can they?

Dear friends and members of the Unitarian Fellowship


Date January 11, 2015 

Time: 3pm

Venue:#402 of International House of Japan.

Our speaker:  Dominick Scarangello

            (A scholar of early modern Japanese Buddhism and religion)

Title of the speech:

The laity can’t really practice or can they?

The history of the early Meiji period Buddhist ‘church’ movement.

‘In the early 21st century, Buddhism is commonly seen as an egalitarian faith that offers practices such as meditation for all and holds the promise of Buddhahood and liberation for both monastic and lay alike. However, this was not always the case. Even in many strands of Mahayana Buddhism, living an active life of Buddhist practice was once thought to be the prerogative of renunciant monastics.

In this presentation I will talk about the early to mid-Meiji movement to develop lay soteriological teachings, creeds and practices from the traditions of Japanese Buddhist groups that had historically privileged renunciant, ascetic practitioners. In addition to eludicating an understudied episode in Buddhist modernism, I hope that the history of this movement will also provide context for understanding successful Buddhist lay movements that developed later in the 20th century.’


Dominick Scarangello

Coming meetings - Jan. 11: Laity, Feb. 8: Insects, March 8: Peace

Dear friends and members of the Unitarian Fellowship,


January meeting: January 11, 2015  at #402 of International House of Japan.

Our speaker will be Dominick Scarangello (scholar of Shugendo, International advisor to Rissho Koseikai). [Topic to be announced]


February meeting: February 8, 2015 

Charlotte Payne (Oxford and Rikkyo Universities)

Entomophagy (the eating of insects--from traditional food cultures to feeding the developing world to entrepreneurial new businesses)


March meeting: March 8, 2015

Kathy R Matsui (Seisen University)

Tentative title-- NARPI and Successful Peace Education Initiatives


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Nov. 9 Speaker Adam Komisarof on The Importance of Accultulturation Strategies

Dr. Komisarof gave us a summary of his talk this coming Sunday and his background below.   Everyone interested is welcome at the International House of Roppongi at 3 p.m. Sunday Nov. 9th.  Looking forward to seeing you.

What We Can All Do to Create a More Global Japan: The Importance of Acculturation Strategies

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics loom on the horizon.  With this seminal event approaching, discussions will proliferate about how Japanese society can become more global and what type of mindset and skills are necessary for Japan’s working populace to become “gurobaru jinzai.  Based on his research over the past 20 years, Professor Adam Komisarof will clarify how an understanding and transformation of acculturation strategies can improve the quality of intercultural relations between non-Japanese and Japanese, and through the mutual efforts of both sides, create a more global society and a populace better prepared to meet the demands of the 21st century workplace.

Presenter Profile

Adam Komisarof, PhD is a professor in Reitaku University's Department of Economic Studies and Business Administration.  During the 2012-13 academic year, he served as a senior associate member of St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, and conducted research as a visiting academic at the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies.  Professor Komisarof’s previous book, On the Front Lines of Forging a Global Society: Japanese and American Coworkers in Japan (2011), earned him Reitaku University’s Excellence in Research Award for 2012, and his latest book, At Home Abroad: The Contemporary Western Experience in Japan (2012), has been highly praised in the mass media. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sept 14 Meeting "A Variety of Religious Experiences"

The topic for our September 14th, 2014 meeting will be "A Variety of Religious Experiences  (with apologies to William James):  Personal Views of an Expat."

The speaker will be  Paul McCarthy, Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations. 
In addition to teaching at various universities in Japan, Paul is a  translator of Japanese literature and has translated  Tanizaki, Nakajima Atsushi, Kanai Mieko, and scholarly and popular works on Buddhism.  

Raised by a Catholic father and a Lutheran mother, Paul "naturally became an Anglican."  With that start and his encounters with Buddhism, and his scholarly but lively presentation, we expect a very interesting meeting.

Anyone is welcome at the Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo meeting at the International House in Roppongi, fourth floor, 3 p.m. September 14th.

For a map, see

Friday, June 6, 2014

June 8 Minorities in Bangladesh - Speaker Tom Eskildsen

Next meeting Sunday June 8,
3:00 International House (Kokusai bunka Kaikan see their website for map). The International House of Japan is near Azabu-Juban and Roppongi stations.
All Welcome (bring a friend).

Mary Donovan is opening the meeting by introducing UU hymns in the spirit of Pete Seeger whose goal was to get everyone singing.

We welcome as speaker Tom Eskildsen, long time Tokyo resident, who is just back from 2 weeks in New York where he lobbied at the United Nations Permanent Forum on INDIGENOUS ISSUES on behalf of the problems of indigenous peoples (many Buddhist) in overwhelmingly Muslim Bangladesh.
He has been working on the 2007-2013 Chittagong Hills Tract White Paper that is due to be published in May.
How can one person make a difference?
He will introduce Bangladesh and speak about JUMMAnet an organization he helped to found here in Japan to aid especially the Chittagong Hills Tract People. Among other things it supports a long term project for rape victims and a scholarship program at Moanoghar
Residential School.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April, May, June and July Meetings

Dear friends and members of the Fellowship,

    Our Palm Sunday (April 13) speaker, Rabbi David Kunin, from the Jewish Community Center, spoke enthusiastically and with many details about the Passover and his Jewish faith and Judaic history.He spoke of himself (an American who arrived with his family from a position in Edmonton, Canada last fall) as a Conservative--keeping close in practice and daily life to the many commandments from the Torah and

tradition-- but socially and philosophically more radical than many Conservative Jews.

     The wealth of detail and nuances he gave us required a much more careful recorder than I, but let me share one comment about the great (most important in the year) Jewish festival of Passover, which developed from  spring agricultural festivals in north Africa (Egypt) and the near East when this was a time of wheat harvest and new lambs.

Passover (and the Seder meal) starts April 14th this year.

   I was struck by his teaching that Passover for him was less a celebration of the special chosen-ness of the people of Israel than a call to action to everyone to be involved in our societies and actively work to set ourselves, indeed all people,  free >> whether from actual slavery  or our enslavement to materialism. He spoke for example of the two midwives who are said to have saved the first borns in the Jewish families (the last plague on the Egyptians before the Pharaoh agreed to set the Israelites free--although he tried to renege  and sent his army after them only to have all his troops perish when the sea closed over them). They might even have been non-Jews and yet they are revered in Jewish tradition  for courageously acting.


Next MEETING Sunday May 11, from 1:00

>>>Movie and discussion "Inside Hana's Suitcase."

How do we teach the next generation about the Holocaust?
(Note: Advance tickets from Peggy required)
Unitarians (all welcome) will gather at Paul's, Yotsuya station Atre (F1), for light refreshments/discussion afterwards (around 4:00).


Sunday June 8, International House 3:00

    Our own Mary Donovan will lead us in some rousing Unitarian related songs at the beginning of the meeting.


   Tom Eskildsen, long term Japanese resident, will talk about the history and problems of Buddhist villagers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts area of  overwhelmingly Muslim Bangladesh, and what he and the organization he helped to found >>JUMMAnet are doing. How can one person make a difference in the face of religious persecution?


Save July 13 for our annual potluck which will also be a  farewell party for Merry Levering  and Mary Donovan.


Peggy Kanada, moderator

Saturday, March 22, 2014

April 13 Rabbi David Kunin Explore Jewish traditions and beliefs

From: Peggy Kanada, moderator
Rabbi David Kunin from the Jewish Community Center of Tokyo explores Jewish traditions and beliefs  
April 13 3:00-5:00 PM, International House of Roppongi, 4th Floor  - open to everyone

Dear members and friends of the Fellowship,
Did you notice news of Rio's or New Orleans' "Carnival" and...
that we then entered the Christian 40 days of Lent on the next
day>>March 12 this year?
Lent is traditionally a time for reflection and abstinence in
preparation for Easter the greatest festival in the Christian year.
Lent/Easter changes every year based on the old lunar calendar
that is still maintained by Jews who inform us that Passover will
start April 15th this year. Because, of course, according to the New
Testament Jesus, a Jew and around the age of 30 , went up to the great
city and temple of Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
And it was at Passover that Christians believe he was rounded
up, tried, executed and buried. "And on the third day rose from the
dead and later ascended into Heaven...from whence he shall come to
judge the quick and the dead".
Unitarians are part of a "living tradition..which draws from many
sources." We look to Judeo-Christian writings as an important
inspiration in our ethical and spiritual life. In particular we see in
Jewish and Christian teachings the call to us to respond to God's love
by loving our neighbors as ourselves.
In this season it is particularly appropriate to have Rabbi
David Kunin of the Jewish Community Center of Tokyo join us to talk
about the Passover and explore Jewish traditions and beliefs.

Sunday April 13 3:00-5:00 International House

Peggy Kanada, Moderator

I hope to see many of you at our April meeting

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