Sunday, September 27, 2015

Oct. 11 50th Anniversary of Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo

50thAnniversary of Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo


Please join us on Sunday, October 11, 2015


International House (国際文化会館)

RSVP needed only for luncheon (4,000yen) at the Dining Room of International House from after 1:00.


November 3 English Language Trip to Mt Minobe, Yamanashi


All (including families) are invited >>

English language bus day-trip to Mt. Minobe, Yamanashi.

November 3 (National holiday)

Ku’onji is the main temple of the Nichiren Sect and this is a chance to learn about the history of Nichiren (the great Buddhist reformer d.1282 ) who settled on Minobu in his last decade after return from exile, and whose tomb is here. We will use the ropeway to the top and also enjoy the Oku-no-in with its great views and fall foliage.

Sponsored by the International Buddhist Congregation of Rissho Koseikai.

Subsidized cost of 3,000yen covers bus, ropeway, lunch and entrance fees.

Meet at 8:20 (Horinkaku parking lot) return expected by 8pm.

RSVP (if possible by Oct 1st) required.

Tel 03-5341-1230  or

Bonnie McClure on Japanese Linked Verse

Unitarian Fellowship Of Tokyo  NEWS 9/2015


Recent Meeting: September 11

The speaker was our member, Bonnie McClure, graduate student in Japanese literature now studying at Aoyama Gakuin University. She introduced us to renga, or linked verse, the dominant form of Japanese style (waka) poetry in the 13—16th centuries. Very much a group effort where, at a social gathering of poets, contemporaneous short poetry was recited and recorded in turn under strict rules of linkage covering changing themes and vocabulary. One hundred stanzas in total were a common length. Individuality and self-promotion were frowned upon. She quoted various aspects of the poetics including a stress on the Buddhist understanding of “temporality” or mujō and quoted Shinkei  (a famous 15c. practitioner along with his student Sōgi) …”the poet must be practically nonexistent.” Here is a linkage of verses (in this case all by one poet) translated by McClure.



Geese cry upriver

from the village

where they send over the boat – Sōgi


The traveler crossing

over the floating clouds – Sōgi


It seems I have become

lost and tangled

in this world into which I was born – Sōgi



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September 13 Linked Verse from Medieval Japan by Bonnie McClure

At our September 13 meeting, our long time member Bonnie McClure will talk to us about renga poetry.   Bonnie, who recently earned her Master's Degree in Japanese Literature at the University of Washington is currently furthering her work under a Ministry of Education scholarship at Aoyama Gakuin.

The dominant poetic form in Japan for some 300 years, linked verse or renga is now a largely neglected chapter of literary history. Composed in a group, renga was a social activity, the party game of its day. It can be thought of as a kind of poetic jamming. Techniques used to link verses were varied and sometimes quite complex; sequences are full of wordplay, allusions, and surprising transitions that can be both clever and profound. One of the representative literary forms of the medieval period, renga displays at times the contemplative mood and Buddhist influence found in much medieval literature. In fact, since it has a rule that no one thread or storyline can continue throughout a sequence―instead every new link has to change things up and move the sequence in a new direction―renga has been called an embodiment of the Buddhist concept of impermanence.
Everyone is welcome to the meeting on the fourth floor of the International House of Japan in Roppongi from 3 -5 p.m. Sunday September 13.   An early dinner or tea follows at the IHJ garden restaurant for those that would like to join.   Reservations for the meeting are not required but a 1000 yen per person donation to help cover room charge would be appreciated.
On October 11, the fellowship will be celebrating 50 continuous years in Japan.  The program will include a discussion of the history of the fellowship in Japan. 

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