Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Summary of February to May meetings

This blog got behind in publishing meetings.   Afraid I was leaning on the messages getting out through the news letter and Facebook.

The next meeting will be June 14, see other post, but just to show we have been busy this year here is a summary of the last few meetings.

May 19 2015 Study Meeting

We had several new faces and welcomed Barbara (our month-long Unitarian visitor to Tokyo from the Summit Unitarian Fellowship in San Diego) on May 19, our most recent meeting of Tuesday afternoon informal gatherings to discuss Unitarian topics.

Our last discussion meeting in this series tried to sum up about Unitarians and Meiji/early 20th century progressive thinkers in Japan.
We are still wrestling with the question of why there is no Unitarian presence today in Japan--after a substantial impact of Unitarians in the late 19th century. We focused on a very interesting short sermon by Rev. Kuroda given to the Japanese speaking expat "progressive" congregation in Wash DC in 1963 who he had encouraged to join All Soul's Unitarian Church. "Religions of the East and West: Why Differences?"

All are welcome at any Tuesday meeting (--just contact your moderator to RECONFIRM time and date).
Our next sessions are planned for (Tuesdays) at 2:30 at my home near Ichigaya:
June 2
June 23
July 7
and July 21 (before a break for summer).

We will read the Fellowship of Tokyo's founder's short book (in English altho somewhere there is a Japanese version since these talks were originally delivered in Japanese it seems) : Kenneth Woodroofe "What is Religion About?

Peggy Kanada,
moderator of the Fellowship

May Main Meeting

Professor and author R. Taggart Murphy spoke to us of some thoughts in his book, Japan and the Shackles of the past.   (four major points, roughly paraphrased)

1.  Japan has never had a revolution of class against class in the Marxian sense.
2  Although the "economic miracle" was not a miracle it is critical in understanding Japan. 

It was rooted in the Japanese circumstances of the 1950's when Japan was prohibited from trading with Chia, traditionally its greatest trading partner.   To keep Japan alive, the US gave carte blanche to trading with the US with no reciprocal responsibilities, and Japan focused resources on dollar earning industries. This resulted in a surplus of dollars which were used to finance the U.S. including the "Reagan Revolution".

3. The source of Japan's zany culture is the contradictions that people live with, such as the central cultural concept of honne and tatemae, and the fact that everyone takes any job seriously and is totally reliable, whether the work is worth it or not.  And the acceptance of difficulties by the people (Shikataganai.)

4.  The country still matters both economically and strategically.   It is the world's third largest economy. Even more important than that, despite the move of much assembly and manufacturing to China and elsewhere, it is still the source of many critical components or sub-components of critical products.  35-40% of some Boeing airplanes,  critical for Apple Airbook, as was shown when 3-11 shutdown some critical factories having a worldwide impact.   It is a fascinating political laboratory facing early many of the problems of Western countries and doing quite well, so worthy of study.
April Meeting
on April 12:
International Buddhist Congregation from 10:30 jeld the annual Hanamatsuri, in celebration of the birth of the historic Buddha, Shakyamuni.
Several members attended the the ceremony of offerings, prayers, Lotus Sutra recitation, and an informative talk all in the English language. This was a wonderful and rare opportunity to experience Buddhism in Japan in English.
Place: Horinkaku and garden(Wada 2chome, Suginami-ku)
www.ibc-rk.org Sponsored by Rissho Koseikai.

At the regular April 12 meeting,
Speaker: fellowship member Stan Yukevitch will talk about Simone Weil.
 3 February 1909 – 24 August 1943) was a French philosopher, Christian mystic, and political activist.
March Report:
On March 8 several from the fellowship joined our member Miriam Arai at Ohmae's building near Yotsuya station for the documentary movie showing of GAIA II.
Another showing of GAIA IV (this one definitely with English
subtitles) was held at the same venue on Sunday afternoon April 26.
The upcoming movie like GAIA II is from Tamura's series of eight GAIA movies --that are essentially interview documentaries with leading activists, scientists and thinkers of our generation who focus on our interdependent web of existence-- our world. The April showing will included Lovelock on the theory of gaia, Nakanen on happiness, and Jane Goodall on environmental conservation and her work with gorillas in Africa.

February  Report
A very challenging meeting  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 entrepreneurs.   Charlotte, who has studied bug consumption in both Japan and Africa shared with us the opportunity to try shochu soaked wasps and silk worm larvae, which at one time was a common source of protein for silk workers, although not all regions enthusiastically participated.   Most of us gave them a chew.

Sorry for the sloppy catch-up.  Will try to keep the blog more up-to-date in the future.  One more meeting June 14th before our two month summer break.


June 14th - Teaching Peace - Kathy Matsui

Our next Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo meeting will be Sunday June 14th

3:00 at International House (near Azabu-Juban and Roppongi stations)

If you can, please join us and the speaker for dinner afterwards in the I house coffee shop from 5:00 until 7:00.

Our speaker, Hawaiian native, professor at Seisen University, Kathy Matsui, will talk about her many activities of "teaching peace."
Important themes in her work include non-violent conflict resolution, social justice and the empowerment of women, and the role of historic memories in reconciliation. She was worldwide president of International Association of Liberal Religious Women for 8 years until
2014 and continues to be active with such groups as OxfamJapan.

Peggy Kanada, moderator

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 http://www.i-house.or.jp/access.html

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.

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