Saturday, January 23, 2016

February 14 - Charles Laurier on Disappearing Doban Buildings of Pre-War Shimatchi Tokyo


Dear UFT friends,


Our speaker will be :

Charles Laurier, Lakeland College Japan Campus

 

The Disappearing Doban  Buildings of Pre-war Shitamachi Tokyo: 

What is worth  passing on of  our 20th century city-scape and history?

 

The copper-plated doban buildings of pre-war shitamachi represent one of the last living connections to traditional Edo and survived the building of a "modern" Tokyo after the 1923 Earthquake.

Unique in world architecture, these mostly 2-story retail /residential buildings, like all structures in Tokyo, have a very short life expectancy, and there are only a few left. Laurier will discuss their origins,  noteworthy features and variations(part of kamban commercial architecture), and will conclude with some thoughts about the prospects for preservation.

 

Sunday, February 14

3:00-5:00 (with dinner afterwards for those who can stay)

International House ((国際文化会館) between  Azabu-juban and Roppongi stations. See their website for a map. 

 

News update: Our January speaker Michael Berman made a thoughtful and enlightening discussion of modern (even post-modern) "relationless" society with a focus on Japan. We all felt it would be great to invite him again during the next year or so that he pursues his research based in Tokyo.

 

Peggy Kanada, moderator

Thursday, December 10, 2015

January meeting: Working to Relate: Religion, Care, and Allienation in Japan - Michael Berman


Dear friends and members of the Fellowship,
 

    We have an interesting speaker scheduled for our first meeting in the new year. Please mark your calendars.

Sunday January 10

3:00 to 5:00 (join us for supper afterwards)

International House 国際文化会館(see their website for directions)

Michael Berman, researcher  (religious studies/anthropology) and Ph.d candidate at Univ of California, San Diego.

Working to Relate:  Religion, Care, and Alienation in Contemporary Japan.” 

A high number of suicides and the "lonely deaths" of people who die alone without family, along with  various issues associated with a dwindling birth rate have led many reporters to refer to contemporary Japan as a "relation-less" society

In this presentation, Berman  will talk about some of the challenges of working to relate to other people in contemporary Japan, including challenges that come from within the particular ways that people are working to care for each other. 

Peggy Kanada, moderator

Saturday, November 28, 2015

News of 50th Anniversary Gathering October 2015


 
(Belated Posting)
 

Dear members and friends of the Fellowship,


On October 11 the Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo celebrated its 50th year of holding meetings (now once a month)  in English with speakers, discussions and cultural events in the Unitarian tradition of inquiry, friendship and concern for social justice and world peace.

 

We had 30 people sign the guest book with Doreen Simmons our oldest member present and Gamini Chadrasebera (inter-faith proponent visiting from Colombo, Sri Lanka) as the participant who had come the farthest.

 

After opening remarks by the moderator Peggy Kanada, we enjoyed two pieces played wonderfully  by the young cellist Chris Gibson.

 

The Rev. Yoshinaga Kazumasa, of the International Buddhist Congregation ( Rissho Koseikai) offered the opening invocation prayers, and daimoku blessing in the Buddhist Lotus Sutra tradition. 

 

We followed with remarks  about the life of Betty Parker (who had just died in July 2015). She with her husband Bill had supported the fellowship for  decades.  While passing around photos we shared memories including of our moderators: microbiologist Mary Louise Robbins (left in 2002) and William Parker (chair for a second time 2003-8) as well as long time contributors like Chuck Roberts (d. 2013),  We observed in memorial a moment of silence. 

 

The Rev. Gene Reeves (Unitarian minister/teacher and former dean of Meadville-Lombard Divinity School at U of Chicago, long time participant in the Fellowship, as well as scholar and translator of the Lotus Sutra and one of the founders of IBC) spoke about the history of the Fellowship. 

He talked about  the fellowship's first chairperson, Kenneth S. Woodroofe (1909-1993), whose memorial service he helped to lead at Ikkoen, Kyoto. He mentioned about the ties of the fellowship to the few active Japanese Unitarians (now gone)  like "Free Religion" Imaoka Shinichi (d.1988) and Universalists like Chiyozaki-sensei (d.2003) and the Dojin  (Universalist) churches, at Meijirodai (where the fellowship met for a couple of  years while Int House was rebuilding) and  Kitazawa.

 

The MC added Robert Manley's story of meeting his wife to be Yoko at his first Fellowship meeting back in 1975 (they were unable to attend from Yokohama).

 

 She also related some of the information  that the Rev. Nezu Masuo recently had written to us-- about his early memories of the fellowship and ties of the founder of Rissho Koseikai, Niwano Nikkyo,  with Unitarians like American U Association leader Dana Greeley  dating back to the 1970's and 80's. 

These connections of inter-faith cooperation  and friendship continue to enrich our fellowship to this day--and  RK members joined us for the anniversary, including several  who had studied under Unitarian programs in the States.

 

While we did not have time to dwell on the biography of our first recorded chairperson (from1968), Woodroofe, we offered on this occasion reprinted copies of his small book of essays "What is Religion About?" (also now available on our web site) which includes  short accounts of him in the preface and afterword.

His motto, "Live, love,learn and laugh."

 

Doreen Simmons, Stan Yukevich and Chuck Olson spoke briefly about their participation in the fellowship. 

Flowers were  presented to thank the moderator who had (almost) no words for the surprise honor.

 

After some thoughts elegantly presented by Paul McCarthy we heard from several speakers at recent meetings  with a social action focus. 

This included Tom Eskildsen on JummaNet and his work for often persecuted tribal or minority peoples in Bangladesh/Burma and Kathy Matsui on NARPI's successful reconciliation and peace workshops this summer in Mongolia and plans for next summer in Taiwan. 

 Pauline Reich spoke about finding in Tokyo only our fellowship as a community to support her beliefs and activities as a progressive, feminist Jew and included  memories about  when she  lived in NYC and knew Unitarians and Buddhists working  to help  refugees. 

 

Finally, the Rev. Suzuki Katsuji talked about suddenly seeing  a golden  carp  leap in the pond near the Koseikai Great Temple this morning on his way  to our gathering.    He took it as a sign of congratulations and encouragement (perhaps from Kannon Bosatsu) to our Unitarian  Fellowship.

 He urged us to continue to work for issues especially nuclear disarmament and led us in a prayer for world peace. 

 

In closing, Father William Bulson from nearby St. Alban's Anglican church with little preamble gave us the Lord's Prayer, which resonated for many of us with an unexpected modernity by echoing our themes of social engagement, forgiveness, and gratitude in our individual searches for spirituality. 

 

We all made a contribution to the event, but Takamatsu Yasuyo and your moderator made larger donations to the Anniversary fund. 

Everyone is welcome to donate even now something extra, especially towards the book reprinting costs and future programs. 

 

Peggy Kanada, moderator

December 13 - Haskell Small, pianist and composer - A Journey in Silence


UFT December meeting:
Sunday Dec. 13 at 3:00pm
International House



Haskell Small, pianist (especially of 18th and 19th century music) and composer of contemporary music with spiritual themes, will talk about his new work "A Journey in Silence: Reflections on the Book of Hours."

He will play some recorded excerpts from his works. And with his wife (if we are up for it) will lead us in some Christmas carols.

Small will be performing at several places in Japan in December including Kumamoto on the 7th, out at the Kawamura Museum in Sakura (sold out on the 12th), in Tokyo on the 19th.

Born in 1948, he is a resident of Washington DC where he is head of the piano department of the Washington Conservatory. He studied in San Francisco and at the Carnegie Mellon University. He has performed extensively over the years.

Best wishes at this busy time of the year end season,

Peggy Kanada, moderator

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Speaker Change Nov 7 Dominick Scarangello - Mountain Ascetic Practice


Change of the speaker of the coming UFT Sunday meeting (Nov. 7)

3:00-5:00 at International House. (Room 402)

Our speaker will be Dominick Scarangello:
Mountain Ascetic Practice:walking in the footsteps of the Buddhas.

He will share photos of some of his experiences of shugendo and yamabushi, as well as some of his deep knowledge of Buddhist rituals and training especially in Japan since the 19th century.

3:00-5:00 at International House.
Open to everyone.
Light dinner afterwards for those who have time to join us.

Peggy Kanada, moderator

Monday, October 12, 2015

Nov. 8 "Different Kinds of Caring" Speaker Michael Berman

UFT November 8th meeting

Dear friends and members of the Fellowship,

Our November meeting is Sunday, the 8th.

The next speaker will be Michael Berman, anthropology Ph.d candidate in Anthropology at UC San Diego, and this year a researcher at Todai (in their Religious Studies department).
He will talk about "Different Kinds of Caring."

3:00 to 5:00
(with supper afterwards for those who can stay at the I House coffee shop)

Our usual place: International House (
国際文化会館)
Please invite a friend or acquaintance and tell them to
see the International House website ( for a map); near Roppongi and Azabu-Juban stations.

Peggy Kanada, moderator of the Fellowship
unitarianfellowshipoftokyo@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Invitation to 50 year celebration of the Fellowship

Let me invite you to join us in celebrating 50 years of the English speaking Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo.
Over the years many have come to meetings of our fellowship (usually the second Sunday of the month).
Maybe you will remember some of our great discussions with speakers like Gene Reeves, Charles McClintock, Tag Murphy, Vivek Pinto, Miriam Levering, Norman Havens or more recently Kathy Matsui, Dominick Scarangello, Charlotte Payne (on the eating of insects) and Bonnie McClure on Renga poetry.

Please join us to renew acquaintances and look to the future.

Sunday, October 11
3:00-5:-00
International House (
国際文化会館) between Roppongi and Azabu-Juban stations.
Room 404.
The program will include cello music, a time for prayers (both of thanks and for our future), speeches by various people with memories of the fellowship.

We plan a luncheon at 1:30 in the downstairs fancy dining room (4,000yen) ONLY for those who wish to sign up.
RSVP needed for luncheon.



Peggy Kanada, moderator
unitarianfellowshipoftokyo@gmail.co

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