Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Komazawa Gakuen Girls' Senior High School




Today we headed for the Komazawa Girls High School. I thought it was going to be very different, because the teaching is based on Zen Buddhism. It was a regular high school with Buddhism offered as a class. We started the day with announcements and a short two minute meditation. Then we took a short tour of the campus and the beautiful library they have.
Then we headed to the zazen meditation room that we allowed to try. We were given a quick overview of Buddhism and then we were shown the correct way to prepare ourselves for meditation. Once seated properly and in proper posture, the priest showed us how they use a stick to whack those who are meditating so they correct their posture or wake up. He then allowed us to experience that. The waiting for it was worse than the whack. How can you meditate when you hear people getting hit?! After that, we were given time to observe classes. Fiona and I wandered into the calligraphy class, and the students eagerly greeted us and then encouraged us to try the calligraphy. They asked us a word we wanted to write and they made an example. I hope the sensei wasn’t too annoyed with us. Fiona did a great job, but when I started they all sucked in air. I realized later that I used too much ink when I noticed it had turned into a big black blob! Oops! I got another chance later thankfully. Then we had a Japanese lunch in the cafeteria.
They got us there before the crowd, but then students from the university, which is connected to the high school, started arriving with their bento boxes. There “lunch box” has several different compartments to separate the food. That way everything does not require individual packaging. They are very environment conscious here in Japan. There are recycling boxes everywhere. They are even on vending machines. OK, after lunch we were instructed by the calligraphy teacher. I did a much better job this time, and he gave us each a fan to do calligraphy on. It looks fairly impressive. We spent the rest of the school day observing classes and then we met with the principal and a couple of the teachers. We found that many of their high school problems we have in the states. They have banned cell phones from the campus, and when they heard about problems we have they looked satisfied that they have. We were allowed to take some old text books, and he gave us a little souvenir. After school they have club which is basically our extra curricular activities. We were able to observe a kyudo class, which is the ancient martial art of archery.
Apparently, the sensei (teacher) was a very well known archer, but he was too modest to say. He had just retired from the school after 42 years of service, but he continues teaching the archery club. We also watched the dance club.

The girls were very eager to perform for us and have their pictures taken. After that I wandered upstairs to see if I could find Ikebana (flower arranging). Instead I found students all around the fourth floor practicing instruments of various kinds. There wasn’t a teacher around, so they must have been practicing something they had already discussed. Finally, I was able to watch the tea ceremony club. The tea ceremony has many different facets, and it takes time to learn it and perform it properly.
The teacher was so apologetic about not having room for us to join, but we needed to get to the bus anyway. I am so tired and my legs hurt, so I had planned on staying in, but I ended up going for dinner with Fiona and Dean. We found an out of the way place not too far from the hotel. It was good, but I’m going to take a nice Japanese bath and hit the sack! We go to the junior high school tomorrow. Saturday we’ll spend with our host family and Sunday is the ryokan. More later.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Anne,

When I read your blog post about being so tired, all these memories came flooding back of the intense schedule on the Rotary trip to Brazil ... so I sympathize with you!!

The visit to the girls'high school sounds like it was fascinating. Watching the girls practice a team ceremony must have been very interesting. You are learning so much!

The weather is better here - sunny, cool, and dry for a change.

See you in a few weeks!

Julie

Jill said...

Your experience with the Buddhist priest in the meditation room was very similar to an experience I had. As part of our program, we spent one night at a training center for monks (I'll have to check if that's the right word.), and during meditation, they had the same practice of whacking people on the back with sticks. As I recall though, we were told that you could get hit either for doing it wrong, or for doing it perfectly. I just remember not wanting to get hit at all! Fortunately, they took it easy on us.

I was also going to mention that I've been very impressed with your calligraphy. I found that very difficult, but I thought that single kanji you made at the elementary school was beautiful! The quality of the lines is very nice. I looked it up, and I believe it means "light". What did you end up writing on your fan?

Ok, I hope your day goes well! Odaiji ni!

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