Tuesday, October 6, 2020


Dear All,


Please join us for Paul McCarthy speaking on his "Personal Spiritual Journey of a Lifetime".


Please RSVP  if you did not attend last month and want the LINK for this meeting (to be sent out a few days before Oct 11).


Your moderator, Peggy Kanada

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Sept 13 Sunday Zoom Meeting Time 1 p.m. Bonnie McClure


[Subject: Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo Sept 13 CHANGED TIME start at  1:00]


Dear members and friends of the Fellowship,


Our speaker for Sunday September 13, 2020 is joining us on ZOOM from California and has requested an earlier start of 13:00 (that is 1:00 Tokyo time). 

We plan to meet 1:00 to 3:30 on ZOOM. 

With extended time for discussion and friendly sharing.


All are welcome to join us-- please send   a request for the ZOOM link which will be  sent out a few days before September 13.


Bonnie McClure--  Japanese Medieval Linked Verse: Renga  anthologies for the modern reader.

This month is a cultural topic steeped in Japanese history: renga, or long linked sequences of short verses that were typically composed by multiple poets at all-day parties of the noble and warrior elites. Renga as a poetic form flourished in the 14th through 16th centuries (the Nanbokuchō and Muromachi periods). Navigating these sequences can be quite difficult for the modern reader (let alone anyone translating them into English), as they are built around many now-obscure conventions and allusions. But there were also anthologies of renga anthologies, which collected particularly skillful examples of individual renga links, categorized by topic. Reading these anthologies (in English translation) is an easy way for us to enjoy renga as a modern reader, and to see the best of the fun twists and turns that skillful poets liked to use. Renga give us an entry into a very different world but one with concerns and emotions that are often remarkable resonant for contemporary readers.

Bonnie McClure has been a  Fellowship member at various times, and has spoken to us before. A native of Georgia, she is a fine pianist.  She worked in Kanagawa  and then  studied Japanese literature  at the University of Washington, coming back to  Aoyama Gakuin for graduate work , and is now in the Ph.d program at UC Berkeley. 


I trust you and all your loved ones are well in this time of the Covid19 pandemic and the extreme heat and rains this summer.


Your moderator,

Peggy Kanada

Friday, June 12, 2020

Dear members and friends of the Fellowship,

 We trust you have been well, but especially those of us who are older (or with health problems/susceptible family members )  will be very cautious about resuming travel and meetings even though Tokyo is loosening restrictions and schools have resumed here in Shinjuku and Minato-ku.
UFT on  Sunday June 14 (3:00 to 5:00) will meet online with a Zoom meeting.
Please contact Peggy Kanada or Chuck Olson or Jeffrey Bruce for Zoom details

June Speaker:   Dominick Scarangello (scholar and translator of Buddhist texts and commentaries) 
 Topic: Ontaki Mountain Religion: the largest Japanese religious movement you may not have heard much about.

Mt. Ontaki is a volcanic peak  in the Alps of Nagano (about 5 hours from Tokyo by  road or train thru Yamanashi into Nagano and beyond Matsumoto). It  is the center of a religious movement or cult (御嶽信仰)  where tens of thousands of men and women still make annual pilgrimages every summer  in groups or confraternities mostly from central Japan (Shizuoka,  Aichi, Gifu, Nagano prefectures). On any summer day while traveling on the Chuo expressway you might see tourist buses full of people wearing white ceremonial religious clothes.
As Dominick writes it is interesting to explore  its inception and development from the mid-Edo period because Ontake illustrates  changes in the faith and practices  of ordinary people over the past several hundred years of modernization, while showing  how shamanistic traditions of Japanese religion are  still alive in the 21st century.
Dominick Scarangello has joined us at Fellowship and spoken to us before.
He obtained his PhD from the University of Virginia in 2012. His interests include Lotus Sutra Buddhism in East Asia, Japanese religions, and religion and modernity. Dr. Scarangello has taught at the University of Virginia and was the Postdoctoral Scholar in Japanese Buddhism at the University of California, Berkeley (2013-14). Presently, he is the International Advisor to Rissho Kosei-kai and coordinator of the International Lotus Sutra Seminar. 
Our member Jeffrey (Jeff) Bruce (Prof.at  Aoyama Univ) spoke last month (May)  about  Greek Mythology and its continuing influences in our modern world. There were several interesting discussion questions.
Sadly we failed to record most of the afternoon to send out to those who requested it.  We will try again to record in June!
Jeff told us how the Greeks gave the world a religion like no others that came before or came later.  For the Greeks, the gods were entirely human in their appearance and behavior in both good and bad ways.  They had every fault and every attribute of humans.  They lived in generations and fought with their parents.  They married and were either faithful or had affairs as their hearts and minds led them.  They were more powerful than humans, but not better.
Through three myths, we learned of the ways of the gods.  Persephone was carried off by Hades to the underworld and thus triggered endless cold and crop failure when Demeter became distraught.  The settlement through Zeus between Demeter and Hades gave us the seasons.  Echo and Narcissus showed us hopeless love and self-absorbed rejection.  The judgment of Paris was the background to the Trojan War when goddesses offered favors in a struggle of three rivals.  The Greeks favored complex stories without any clear position of good or evil.  Each god and each human could show both and as the stories unfolded a variety of lessons could be learned.

Peggy Kanada, moderator

Saturday, February 29, 2020

March meeting canceled

Dear UFT friends,

After further review of the recent news related to the corona virus, Chuck and Yasuyo have decided that the March 8, Sunday meeting will be canceled.

Int’l House has informed us that many events are being canceled, and although they do not advise members one way or another, they certainly were not advising against it

We will keep close watch on the situation and determine what to do in April in the coming weeks, but in the mean time will keep our reservations.

In the meantime, for fellowship, reach out to friends and family by e-mail and phone.   It is a great time to stay in touch.

Hope you are all staying as healthy as possible.

Chuck  for Peggy

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Feb. 9 Whisper of the Land - Visions of Japan.” Edward Levinson, photographer

Dear UFT friends, 
Our regular monthly meeting.
Date: February 9th, Sunday
Time: 3:00-5:00
Venue: International House of Japan      国際文化会館https://www.i-house.or.jp/eng
  Near Roppongi and Azabujuban StationsAll welcome!   Please bring a friend!

Edward Levinson (originally  from Virginia) who has lived in Japan since around 1979 will give a talk entitled "Whisper of the Land - Visions of Japan.” 

 Illustrated with many slides of his photos. Essayist,photographer (and video maker) as well as a poet he brings both a visual eye and thoughtful analysis to his life and to Japan. He plans to share some of his personal  experiences in reflecting on his four decades here.

 And our speaker will join those of us who care to stay for dinner (planned at the I House cafe) afterwards.

He will  have copies of several of his books for sale. 

Peggy Kanada/Moderator

Memorial Mary Elizabeth Donovan 1944-2020

Last month we lost one of our dearest members, Mary Donovan.  Although she returned to the States several years ago, she continued to stay in touch.  We all express our sad feelings to her wife Miriam,
and treasure her memories.   The following was written by Memory.  RIP

Mary Elizabeth Donovan, a master’s degree graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and a longtime nurse and nurse practitioner at the both UT Medical Center and the Massachusetts General Hospital, died from complications of heart surgery on January 22, 2020.

The daughter of Donald Donovan and Pauline Edna Hensley, she was born in Norman, Oklahoma in 1944.

When World War II ended the family moved to Los Angeles, California, where Mary grew up.  It was an era of good public schools and  rec center sports, at which Mary excelled. She graduated from Pico Rivera High School in Pico Rivera, CA. 

Mary’s mother and aunts were exceptional musicians, so Mary took piano lessons.  The flute became her most beloved instrument. The best teacher in her life was her flute teacher, who taught at Whittier College.  She sang in choirs at Whittier churches. As a teenager she joined a Conservative Baptist church.

Her parents did not have the money to send her to college, but supported her desire to go.  She enrolled in San Jose State College as a music major. Unable to afford to live on campus, she had trouble finding a community.  She transferred to Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in Owatonna, Minnesota. There she stood out as a musician, majoring both in music and Bible.

After a year of teaching at Maranatha Baptist College in Watertown, Wisconsin, Mary realized that she could not make a living in music except at a Bible College or as a primary school teacher, jobs she did not think herself suited to.  So she enrolled in Mankato State College in Mankato, MN to earn a B.S. in Nursing. 

On graduation she took a job at the famous Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. She wanted to “see the country” before returning to California to settle down.

In Boston she enjoyed too much professional excitement and too many friends at “the General” to think of going home. She specialized in gerontology and radiation therapy, earning national certifications in those fields. She and her friend Peggy, also a nurse, bought on the Public TV auction the first house renovated on the TV show “This Old House.” She joined the hospital women’s softball and basketball teams.

In the summer of 1986 she met Miriam Levering, a professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. A year later she moved to Knoxville to share her life with Miriam. At the UT College of Nursing she earned a Master’s Degree in Nursing and became a nurse practitioner.

Miriam took Mary to an evening business meeting at the newly founded Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Farragut. Hearing that the church had no pianist, Mary volunteered to play the piano for church services twice a month.  Later she led choirs at that church, as well as continuing to play the piano. She served as member and musician there for 32 years.

Mary’s first job in Knoxville was at the Knox County Health Department in pre-natal care.  Mary next got a job in cancer nursing at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, the one “teaching hospital” in Knoxville. As a nurse practitioner, her job was to assist a gynecological oncologist. Later she worked in the Cancer Department’s Clinical Trials office. She retired from the UT Medical Center in 2008. Miriam and Mary were married in Massachusetts in December of that year.

Mary’s passion during her years in Knoxville was folk music and contemporary accoustic music.  She joined the Board of Jubilee Community Arts, as well as represented Jubilee Community Arts on the Board of Community Shares. She served as the programmer and DJ of Jubilee Community Arts’ Sunday radio show on WUOT, “Live at Laurel,” broadcasting a 20-minute excerpt from a recent concert at the Laurel Theater, plus a selection of music by other artists who had appeared there.

In retirement Mary spent five years in Japan teaching English to college graduates at the Rissho Kosei-kai seminary for the future staff and leaders of that Buddhist group.  She also taught “Physical Assessment” to nursing graduate students at St. Luke’s College of Nursing in Tokyo. With Miriam she joined the international women’s club in Tokyo called The College Women’s Association of Japan, founded in 1945.  She was very active in that club’s music interest group, Friends of Music.  She became co-leader of the group, as well as the choral director for a time.  She made wonderful friends there, as well as at Rissho Kosei-kai’s International Buddhist Congregation. There she played the piano and led singing every Sunday morning. In addition, she contributed to the meetings and activities of the Tokyo Unitarian Fellowship.

Returning to the United States, she and Miriam began to spend four winter months in Sanibel, Florida.  Mary and Miriam both joined a Unitarian Fellowship and a Writing Group there. In Sanibel and Fort Myers Mary found several outstanding choral groups to sing with. Singing with the choir of the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ Church under Elwood Smith was a wonderful experience. In a student and community choral group led by Prof. Ron Doiron at the SW Florida State College in Fort Myers, Mary performed the German Requiem by Brahms, a dream come true.  

In Knoxville, Mary joined the International Friends Club of Tennessee, and the “Singing Seniors” at the John T.O’Connor Senior Citizens Center.  In addition, Mary was invited to join the Schola Choir at the Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Church on N. Central Ave.   To join the “Geezer’s Band” at the John T. O’Connor Senior Citizen’s Center, she took up the harmonium, enjoying being an instrumentalist again

Mary is survived by her spouse, Miriam Levering of Knoxville, her brother Sean Donovan of Sedona, AZ, her sister Dolores Neeley of San Ramon, CA, many cousins with whom she grew up in California, and nieces and nephews.

A Memorial Service will be held at the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m..

Donations in Mary Donovan’s name may be made to the “Music Fund” of the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church,  616 Fretz Road, Farragut, TN 37934.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Taming the Tiger Within Jan.12 2020 meeting

We trust that 2020 will be a new year of happiness and heath for you and your loved ones!

Longtime resident, writer, and transformational life coach-- Pauline Tsukamoto.

"Taming the Tiger Within--  Japan and the Road Less Traveled."

Usual time:  3:00-5:00

At International House (国際文化会館)Roppongi and Azabua-Juban stations.

We will meet afterwards for dinner although Pauline cannot join us.

Please invite a friend to try us out!


On December 8th  we enjoyed a  talk about cultural and musical "crossover" and short koto and shakuhachi crossover demonstrations of Indian music played on traditional Japanese instruments  by TM (Tim)  Hoffman.

Based on his living  in Japan and long years of experience in India he spoke of the differences between Sanskrit/Indian languages and Japanese and between the music  traditions. To simplify his complex argument he explained how and why  the greater number sounds in Indian language and raga and above all the freedom and challenges of improvisation could be incorporated into Japanese education not just in music but across the board.

From your Fellowship moderator, Peggy Kanada

Total Pageviews