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.


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