- About Us
- Speech Essay
2010, Nenad Niciforovic
On November 20th, my spouse Ana and I arrived to
The very next morning we started our journey to Mirokusan where Grand Festival for 22nd branch was to be held. The landscape during our trip was gorgeous, and the icing on the cake was beautiful temple on the top of the mountain, as well as Mrs. Kotani’s tomb. My biggest surprise was to hear “Hi Nenad” from Mr. Kan Suzuki, realizing that I’m not complete stranger in this country and that people I met few months ago in
Thanks to Mr. Miyamoto’s kindness and unselfish help from Mr. Yoshi Nagai, we were invited to Ito, small
The next day on our trip back to
The next day Ana and I took Shinkansen (bullet train) to
The next morning, we continued to our next destination -
The same feeling we had in Takayama, visiting famous Hida Folk Village, an open air museum exhibiting over 30 typical farmhouses and other traditional buildings from the Hida region, the mountainous district of Gifu Prefecture around Takayama. All exhibited buildings are carefully preserved; display everyday utensils and the buildings' indoor fireplaces are lit every morning, making this outstanding open air museum a treat not only for the eyes but also for the nose.
The next two days were reserved for
Reiyukai’s Shakaden, a temple with its modern design, architecture and impressive Main Hall, always open for all members, was our last stop. After busy and very packed week, with so many places that we managed to visit, this was the perfect gateway to spend some moments reading sutra.
I was very grateful that I had opportunity to experience this ancient culture, learn more about Reiyukai philosophy, and inspire myself to give more to the people in need that we can find on every step. I would like to sincerely thank Mr. Miyamoto for endless effort and enthusiasm, and Reiyukai
2010, Ana Niciforovic
Trip to The Land of the Rising Sun, during colorful Japanese autumn was Nenad’s and my dream for such a long time. Thanks to Reiyukai
We landed in
Our next stop was a famous hot spring resort Ito, where we were invited thanks to Mr. Miyamoto’s kindness. That was the perfect place to relax in the hot spring bathtubs and to experience traditional hotel room and food.
The next day on our trip back to
The next day Nenad and I took shinkansen to
Our next stop was
After a short break in
On our back to
Upon arriving to
At the end of our journey we visited
I brought home so many beautiful memories from this trip and therefore I am very grateful that I had opportunity to explore this country, its culture and tradition. People that I met during this trip were great inspiration for me, and motivation to further promote Reiyukai ideas.
I would like to thank Mr. Miyamoto and 22nd Branch for supporting new members and giving them opportunity to travel and meet such a wonderful and welcoming people in
2010, Karen Milde
To be honest, I was really nervous about going to Japan for the first time. I was worried about not speaking the language, not knowing the customs, and having a hard time adjusting to the food. To my surprise, it was the exact opposite as I loved the language, I was able to speak English, and the food was fresh and delicious which was to my delight (vegetarian was my favourite). I did blunder at times with the customs, but everyone was courteous enough to show me the proper way which I very much appreciated.
Upon my arrival with Mr. Miyamoto and Abe, we boarded the airport limousine to head into downtown
The entire time I was in
Also, I can really appreciate the Japanese attention to detail such as when displaying food products for sale. Everything is neatly packaged and displayed in small portions that you could not resist from buying something to try. Not only that, but they made sure they carefully situated their business operations everywhere so that you are tempted to purchase things (e.g. lots of food outlets in the subway stations) at all times. Even the transportation map was so carefully designed such that it can be easily followed by tourists.
My first night was spent in the Gazembo. Sleeping on the tatami mats was a unique experience, but it was comfortable. Next day, we had breakfast at the Royal Host, which I viewed as the Knight and Day of Japan and then we were off to Mirokusan. The bullet train ride was an amazing experience as it does not feel like your going really fast on the inside but when you see the train travelling from the outside you then realize why it is called a bullet train. I was really amazed at how beautiful Mirokusan was and the number of people that were attending the 22nd branch gathering. I was for the first time introduced to the ‘yukata’ at Mirokusan and found them to be very nice looking and comfortable. It was also neat to see how there was food concession stands (e.g. ice cream and take away restaurant) operating up in Mirokusan by Reiyukai
Following Mirokusan, Mr. Miyamoto so kindly took us to experience an ‘onsen’ (
Overall, my first
2010, Gary Matson
It was June 2010. I was off to
Elisa did not know what to expect. She was quickly made comfortable at Miroku-san thanks to the kindness of many people she met, including the ladies she shared a room with. Since Elisa’s Japanese language ability is not at an advanced level, she was grateful to receive help with instructions in English from her roommates. They encouraged Elisa to play an active role during meal times. I was pleased to see Elisa helping out with the delivery of cutlery and dishes to the cheerful line of people picking up their plates of meals at dinner and breakfast.
The program of activities was filled with the warmth of its participants and with the wisdom found in the Buddhist sutras. Both Elisa and I were charmed by the leaders and youngsters forming the youth group. The theme of the June 13-14th retreat was Yorokobi Hakken MIroku-san (“Happy Discoveries at Miroku-san”). The program of events in the late afternoon of June 13th mainly consisted of sutra readings and a mass walk up the steps to the main temple area. Groups of walkers ascended the steps to the chants of Namu myoho renge kyo. The program of events in the evening were divided into six activities: (1) the discovery of happiness found in Buddhist scriptures; (2) the discovery of happiness from great teachers of Buddhism; (3) the discovery of happiness in fellowship; (4) the discovery of happiness from the guidance and education of others; (5) the discovery of happiness from community service activities: and (6) consultation corner.
Elisa and I attended the fifth activity, the discovery of happiness from community service activities. The session was conducted mainly by members of the youth group. At a time when I do not see many young people devoting themselves to community services in
Before the lights went out on Day 1, we had a chance to enjoy the fellowship of others. Elisa could enjoy a communal bath before retiring for the night. She could reminisce with her roommates about the events of the day, enjoy moments of good natured humour, and then she was fast asleep in her futon on the tatami mat floor.
Dawn breaks early at Miroku-san. It brings with it delicious vegetarian dishes for breakfast. The rest of the morning of June 14th consisted mainly of activities in the main hall. After further sutra readings, we were treated to a number of inspirational talks including testimonials from Reiyukai members. As in the past, I enjoyed the enthusiasm of the many members wanting to share their resolutions with all the members present. Although my daughter did not voice it at the assembly, she later told me how much she gained from the Miroku-san experience and of her desire to return again in the future.
2009, Amy Yodogawa
This summer I had a chance to go with my friend Karen to
Finally, we had to leave the plane and I was thinking that the air would be very polluted and smoggy. My last trip to
Much to my surprise the opposite occurred: the air was as fresh as in
Furthermore, my friend came to attend a conference with the Reiyukai. To be honest, I joined the Reiyukai to be able to stay with Karen at the Centre in
One of the highlights of my trip was to attend the Centre in Mirokusan. The Centre was impressive and probably could house 1000 people. We were told that they needed more members and the 500 there was not enough. People had their own dorm rooms, were told when to wake up, eat, use the bathroom and go to their different activities. I was shocked that the people were so obliging and fit right into a box. For instance, we had to wake up a 4 am to see the sunrise which was, an event in itself that I would probably not experience again. I was amazed that there was no choice in the matter and people, except for Karen did not protest. Everything had an order and disorder was not condoned. For instance, if I did not fold my futon the right way, it was redone for me. On the other hand, the food was delicious and I was amazed that I slept so soundly in a room full of people that did not snore. The attendants at the main centre could not think on their own which was scary. For instance, they had a rule that everyone had to leave the room by 7 am even if we were staying the next day. We couldn’t leave our things in the room but had to cart it into another locked room. We could not convince them otherwise at the logic of our request. However, I understand that for the price we paid to stay, this was a small inconvenience and gave me an insight into the Japanese mind. Karen’s friend Keiko-san who is a member at the 22nd Branch was more than hospitable and she and her friends took us to a very high-end restaurant where I had the best meal that I can ever remember. Besides the dinner, we were given many gifts that included the cherished Japanese knife that we took with much guilt as we did not have gifts to reciprocate.
Moreover, the rest of the trip was spent sight seeing the temples in
In summary, this holiday in
2008, Maurice Dodd
Summary - Atwo day visit to Mirokusan , meeting other Reiyukai members and traveling to other parts of
It was with a hint of trepidation that I flew out of
This time I was in the company of Mr. Tom Miyamoto, President of Reiyukai
The following day I sampled the Metro to Tokyo Central and boarded the Shinkansen to
On Monday I traveled to Mirokusan via Atami, Ito and then Atagami. The position of Mirokusan about 1000 metres above sea level took me by surprise as well as the secluded situation in the hinterland. My time there was not what I expected. I found the other members polite, enthusiastic and focused on well being and quiet meditation. The organization was superb, meticulous and efficient. I met other Reiyukai members which reinforced my view about the aspirations and thinking behind the Reiyukai movement. The next day from 5 am to about 1 pm consisted of sutra readings, music, talking to other members in small groups and listening to speeches from the past president to the current incumbent. The speeches were enthusiastic and uplifting, even though Mr. Miyamoto gave translations I could perceive from the nuances and inflections the meanings behind the Reiyukai membership to influence and change direction of people.
After the meeting I proceeded to Ito to a hot spa with Mr. Miyanioto and two other members. An affable and pleasant evening was had by all Food was superb!!! Ito town offered many opportunities for me to partake in some photography.
The next day we headed down the Izo peninsula back to
The next couple of days were spent in
The actual involvement of seeing
Many thanks to my hosts but especially to Mr Tom Miyamoto for his patience, humor and generosity at all times.
2006, Milan Vuckovic
I was one of a few people who had that great opportunity to visit
We arrived on September 28th to
On Saturday Sep 30, we started our journey to Mirokusan on
The next day, that started very early, we gathered again in the Great Hall, where we heard words of Mrs. Hamaguchi and personal experiences of other members. We enjoyed listening to traditional Japanese music played by Reiyukai members, and we also heard recorded speech of Mrs. Kimi Kotani. Later on we had a chance to introduce ourselves and say a few words about our future plans. We also took the opportunity to invite Japanese members to visit us in
Personal experiences that we heard left great impression on me, and made me realize that readings and talking to other Reiyukai members helps solving problems and difficulties that people have in their relationships with other family members and friends. I also realized that we share lots of similar ideas and goals, especially when it comes to attracting new members. The meeting helped me understand better the importance of diffusing Reiyukai philosophy among our friends and people we know.
After Mirokusan, we went to Ito, small town on the seaside, where we stayed in a beautiful hotel Hatoya. We enjoyed delicious food and traditional Japanese baths, relaxed in massaging chairs, and admired the great view.
We wanted to see more of traditional
We also went to
On our last few days in
I would like to sincerely thank them again for everything they did for us, as well as to Mr. Miyamoto and Reiyukai Canada for giving me this great opportunity to see Japan again.
2006, Marija Vuckovic
On September 28th Mr. Miyamoto,
First thing that we have seen very next morning was Shakaden which greatly impressed me with its modern design and architecture. The main hall looks like welcoming, quiet place, always open for all members to come and spare some moments of their busy life. After spending some time there, we have visited International Department and 22nd Branch’s Office.
For Saturday we have planned our trip to Mirokusan where Grand Festival for 22nd branch was to be held. Mirokusan is a great place where I have had opportunity to meet many Reiyukai youth members. Talking and listening to them speaking of their own experiences during the Mirokusan Training Session helped me learn how to improve relations with others and most of all, my own way of living. Reciting sutra made me think about all my actions and how I can model my behaviour to reach every goal in my life. It was really unique and trilling experience that I will never forget.
Our next destination was Ito where we spent whole day relaxing in a hot spa of Hatoya hotel and enjoying delicious Japanese food thanks to Mr. Miyamoto.
After Ito we travelled for several hours north to a small mountain town called Takayama - the town that time forgot. Strolling Takayama's streets, especially in its beautifully preserved old town, is like touring architecture throughout the ages, from the 17th century to the present. The sake breweries, the old Japanese shops, restaurants and the private homes are still very much alive - inhabited and used today. Also
Our next destination was
After five days of travelling around, we returned to
We also managed to squeeze a quick trip to
Even though I have seen so many things and had wonderful experiences wherever I went, I think that there is still so much to see that everyone could spend more than a lifetime exploring this country.
Many thanks to Mr. Miyamoto for this opportunity, and all the Reiyukai Japan Youth Members who made us feel like at home.
2006, Ivana Vuckovic
On September 28th, our little Reiyukai
This time, Reiyukai
The next morning we left for Mirokusan where we arrived some four hours later. It felt good to be back especially when I started seeing all the people I have previously met either in
Our Sunday morning of October 1st started very early with a breakfast and meeting at the Main Hall. As always, this was a very special part of the Mirokusan experience. We started with the readings, and then had a chance to hear Gagaku – a traditional Japanese music; Mrs. Kimi Kotani’s recorded speech and other speeches of different members; hear several personal experiences; and also had a chance to say a few words about the future plans on behalf of Reiyukai
Upon leaving Mirokusan and thanks to Mr. Miyamoto’s eternal kindness, we were invited to Ito, a
This trip to
I would like to thank 22nd Branch for supporting our Canadian members and giving us the opportunity to visit
2005, Milan Vuckovic
I was honoured to have the opportunity and participate at the Grand Gathering organized by 22nd Branch of Reiyukai International at Mirokusan
I arrived to
The next day Maya and I took Shinkansen train to
Mr. and Mrs. Ueno took Maya and me to
The next day I went back to
Next couple of days I spent going around the
On Saturday May 15th, Mr. Miyamoto, Maya and me started our journey to Mirokusan on
I was very impressed how the whole event was organized, and it helped me understand better what Reiyukai organization represents, what its goals, ideas and philosophy are. It gave me the opportunity to meet other members, hear their ideas, and also tell them what we do here in
After Mirokusan, Mr. Miyamoto took us to Ito, a small seaside town, famous for its
The last day in
I brought home the most beautiful memories from this trip to
2005, Maya Shigeno
When I left for
On the first day after arriving in
My next activity with the Reiyukai was the trip to Mirokusan. It is a retreat in the mountains away from the busy city life in
In Mirokusan, the women and men have separate accommodations and no meat is eaten there. At first I felt a little lonely because I didn’t know anybody, but all that changed when we got into group discussions. My group was composed of all young people, except I was the only girl. My group members were impressed with the Chinese characters which make up my name. The first character in my name is the same character for Mirokusan, so it was way for people to start talking to me. Mr. Miyamoto had to translate for me, but I found out that our activities in
My experience at Mirokusan and trip to
2004, John Minichiello
A celebration commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Reiyukai Youth was held 2004 April 9 at Ise
The ceremony began at April 9 at the Sun Arena near
The organization of this event was meticulous, the enthusiasm of the participants contagious, the dedication of all involved inspiring and provided overwhelming evidence of the positive influence of Reiyukai. After participating in this awe inspiring ceremony it is no wonder that Reiyukai has over 3,000,000 members in
Though participation in the commemorative ceremony was the most significant part of our trip to
Following the ceremony, Mr. Miyamoto booked us into a traditional Japanese hot springs hotel in
We returned to
Witnessing and participating in the everyday adventure of living in
2004, Ana Mirkovic
My name is Ana and I am member of Reiyukai. I had an honour to participate in this important and magnificent event that took place in Iso Shrine in Japan. I will tell you not only about the experience itself, but my own feelings and inspiration about the event, people and Japan as a country.
I am very proud to be part of such a big organization. I have to admit
that until I visited Japan I did not realize how many devoted and enthusiastic members Reiyukai has. I have met many very hospitable, friendly and helpful people. They did they best to make us feel at home, show us around, make sure we feel that we belong. It felt like having a big family.
Upon our arrival to Tokyo, we had a few free days to explore the city. The members of Reiyukai we have met at the office took us for a tasty and authentic Japanese food in an exclusive restaurant in Ginza. Additionally, Mr. Myamoto has shown us the city and helped us learn how to use complicated Tokyo subway. He also told us about different parts of Tokyo, specially about the "book and magazine" section which is close to the university Mr. Myamoto used to attend.
I have done lot of cultural exploration of Tokyo during the day, including the Imperial Palace, Museum of Crafts, Modern Museum, National Museum of Japan, and at night I had a chance to see city of neon and light. It was all very impressive. The most fascinating are technological advances, organization, perfection and hard work of Japanese people. Everybody was really polite, helpful and above all respectful.
Later that week we went to the 50th Anniversary Event of the Reiyukai Youth Group held in the Iso area. After the night bus ride we reached the shrine in the morning. It was spiritual, peaceful surrounding with forest and gardens.
The celebration was visited by over 15000 members and I could feel energy and excitement in the air. With a help of a translator, we could hear
about the two struggling life stories of two young members and about their gratitude to Youth Group support. There were music/dance performances that followed the historical and developmental background of Reiyukai organization and the Youth movement within. I felt really proud that I could
be there and feel the energy of all this young people and their inspiration and motivation.
After the celebration I went to Kyoto and spent some time exploring the cultural heritage of the old capital. Really pretty at this time of year
- with cherry blossoms all around.
After that I returned to Tokyo by a bullet train which was a new and exciting experience. The rest of the trip I have spent getting to know the capital. A very important event took a place at that time. Thanks to Mr. Myamoto’s friends, I was honoured to be at the performance of traditional Japanese music and dance at the Imperial palace.
I can write so much more, there are so many impressions, and I still need time to sort them out. I can say that it was a great learning experience that helped me understand Reiyukai even more. Once again, thank you all for the opportunity to visit Japan and participate in such an important event.
2004, by Ounesh Reebye
My recent visit to Japan was probably one of the best first time introduction to a new country I have ever had. My experience was a memorable one that has made me realize the importance of friendship and culture in one’s life.
Reiyukai has opened the doors to new friendships, culture and yes, I have to admit new dance moves!
Our trip started one week prior to the Reiyukai festival in Tokyo, where upon arrival at Narita airport we were faced with the inevitable ‘the language barrier’. Fortunately, we weren’t lost in translation as we had clear instructions on commuting via the spaghetti network of trains to Tokyo and all our addresses were in both Japanese and English.
I was also fortunate enough to have had a private tour of the hotspots courtesy of my friend, Steve Oye, who moved to Tokyo from Canada five years ago. It would have taken me at least one week to see one third of what I saw if it weren’t for Steve’s help.
Tokyo is a bustling and vibrant city with an abundance of western influence from the corner McDonalds restaurants to the shopping districts smothered with trends that would frankly leave you in awe. Tokyo is also a city that never sleeps; Nightlife never seems to end and carries on beyond the early morning hours past sunrise. Just like any big city, there are masses of people trotting up and down the busy city center. At times, I had to swim across an ocean of people to get from one end of the street to the next.
I was quite fond of Harajuku with its fun, fashionable and ridiculously faddish district that left me feeling as if I had just stepped into a circus.
From our escapades on Ropongi to our shopping frenzy in Akihabara the highlight of our Japanese experience started when we took the bullet train (Shinkansen) to Kyoto where we visited a number of shrines and temples.
One of my favorite temples was the Kinkakuji golden temple on the Shibuya River.
From Tokyo, we then headed off to Hiroshima. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is a ‘must see’ that will leave you shocked and saddened by the devastation. What happened in Hiroshima has changed the way we look at life and the impact of nuclear weapons.
After Hiroshima we went back through Kyoto to Tokyo where we prepared and trained for our big performance at the 22nd Branch ceremony. It was to my amazement that we were welcomed with open arms by the Reiyukai members in Tokyo, who were curious about the Canadian culture and lifestyle. Others were excited to have an opportunity to practice English.
Our rehearsal made me realize that the language of dance was universal. East met west as we performed in front of over 1500 guests. The “Fisherman Dance” marked the finale of the 22nd branch celebration with the traditional Sake ceremony. It was a moment that I will never forget.
As this was my first trip to Japan, I knew nothing about the meaning of the Japanese culture as well as the Sutra and it’s impact people’s lives. It was great to hear from other members how the practice of Sutra reading has helped them in moments of despair and how is had strengthened their marital and family ties.
In conclusion, Japan truly is a unique country with its rich culture, fascinating people, karaoke and food. It was a privilege to be part of the 22nd branch celebration and I am extremely glad to have made some wonderful friends. I look forward to visiting Japan again in the near future.
2004, Maria Thomas
Considering Ounesh used all of the best pictures in his report about our trip to Japan, I thought I would write it like a diary, and tell you a little bit about our experiences each day…with a few pictures…
Friday, September 10th
So today, we left for Japan. One of the longest flights I’ve ever taken, but the food was excellent, and the excitement kept me awake for the majority of the flight. I remember thinking I need to start practicing with chopsticks so I don’t embarrass myself too much in japan! The flight gave me the chance to do a little planning for where we need to go when we arrive and how we’re going to get there
Saturday, September 11th
Arrive in Japan!! The first thing I remember seeing was one of the green phones, and thinking ‘oh no’ because not only were the instructions written on it in Japanese, I had forgotten to get the phone number for making a collect call to Canada from mr. Miyamoto! Also, I had read in the lonely planet that international calls needed to be made from special phones that were partially gold in color and they were few and far between.
So, ounesh and I continued to follow the crowd to the narita express (I believe) which took us to Tokyo station. Thankfully the last minute directions I had gotten from Pravesh (previously when Mr. Miyamoto was explaining Tokyo station, I was a little overwhelmed…) helped us find the right exit. After we were out of the station however with our luggage, we were clueless. I think I must have sat waiting for ounesh to make a few calls for about 45 minutes, and finally we just ended up taking a taxi to Reiyukai.
When we arrived, we found the tunnel, or long driveway to the back where the office was to get the key. It was our first challenge with language differences, but finally, they agreed to give us the key when we gave Miyamoto’s name. Phew.
We made our way to the gazenbo, and finally got to sit down. Ounesh was able to get a hold of steve, and although I was ready to pass out, it was our first night in japan so off we went to Denny’s!
Steve, ounesh’s friend met us there with his friend and next we went to Raponggi, the tourist area of Japan. I think we went to about 7 different places! Lots of fun, even though Pravesh called this area ‘pimptown’
Back to the Gazebo, slept like a baby.
Sunday, September 12th
2nd day in japan, and ready to explore. Steve took us all around Tokyo and showed us the major areas, including Sinjuku, Shibuya, Ebisu, Ginza, Akihabara (electric town), Harajuku, In the evening, we went to eat in Odaiba and had some western food
Monday, September 13 – Wednesday, September 15th
We left for Kyoto, on the Shinkansen, “aka bullet train”. We stayed in a hostel which was about 10 minutes away from Kyoto station. This was my first experience staying in a hostel, and it was awesome, because it allowed us to meet people who were also foreign to Japan, but we could share stories and experiences. While in Kyoto, we had the opportunity to visit many beautiful castles, temples and shrines, such as the Nijo castle, the ginkakuji, Reikanji and Honen-in temples and my favorite, the kinkakuji temple. We walked from the Kinkakuji temple and visited the Tyoanji temple and theNinnaji Temple. Also, the kenninji temple in Gion. We walked from shijo towards gion, and if I remember correctly, there were some excellent shops in this area. We also tried to go to the Kyot Imperial palace, however unfortunately you need to register before hand, and they only had English tours at 10:00 and 2:00, so we ran out of time. We did however have a chance to see the Rosanji temple while in this area.
So, needless to say, Kyoto was a beautiful place to visit, and definitely a different world in comparison to Toyko.
Thursday, September 15th
Our trip is half over and there is still so much to do and see! Thursday we went to Hiroshima. This was definitely the most eye opening experience for me, and I would recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to go to Japan, spend at least one day in Hiroshima. Ounesh and I must have spent 7 hours at the museum, A dome site and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It’s amazing to think that something that 50 years ago was practically destroyed, has been built up to be so beautiful and far more advanced than what we have in Canada. In addition to this, one of the most impressive things is that the intention of Hiroshima now is not revenge, but world peace, and ridding the world of all nuclear weapons. Amazing people.
Friday, September 16th – Monday, September 20th
Back in Tokyo. This is when we had our chance to spend time with the members of Reiyukai, and attend the events. The sutra reading during the day was very interesting and inspiring, and I definitely feel blessed to have been a part of this.
In the evening, was the ‘party’. I think this was Kengo’s chance to get back at our branch for making them go camping in the rain when visiting Vancouver! So, ounesh and I were graciously asked to be a part of this dance on stage, in front of about 1000 people. I have to also say, this group had already practiced about 20 times, whereas ounesh and I had 2 chances to practice! Thankfully we were in the back, and hopefully, no one noticed my many mistakes! After I got over the embarrassment, it was great fun!
One last thing I wanted to point out was that the Japan Reiyukai youth group was great. Everyone was so helpful and friendly, it felt like we had all known each other for years, even if there were a few language challenges. I definitely feel that I have made many new friends and look forward to seeing all of them again.
This whole trip to Japan was an amazing experience that I will definitely never forget. Thank you so much for this opportunity.
2004, by Dominik Di Leo
I wish to take this opportunity and introduce myself. My name is Dominik Di Leo. I was born in
Last year, I had my first depression. Betrayed by friends and colleagues, I lost trust in all people. I forgot about the beauty that life gives, and I could no longer see what is good in this world. In 2004, I decided to stay with my friends at the splendid city of
In October and through our organization, I had an opportunity to see the heart of Reiyukai:
On the first day of our trip Ivana, Karen, Mrs. Miyamoto and I went to Shakaden and the International Department’s office where I had a chance to get to know people who work there.
Having studied architecture, I could enjoy twice as much this impressive building. I remember, it seems as it was yesterday, we walked all together between the benches of Shakaden and I felt such serenity.
The next day we visited offices of 22nd Branch. Inside, I felt again this serenity. I also had an opportunity to meet Professor Hamaguchi, leader of the 22nd Branch, and have a real, pure conversation in this nice surrounding.
The following weekend, we were honoured by the opportunity spend two days at Mirokusan Training Centre. I remember I was nervous, I had no clear idea how it would be there. Early in the morning, we took the train only to arrive to the station where I saw hundreds of people like us - all waiting to take the bus that would take us to the top of the mountain. People who welcomed us brought us to our rooms, and I had a chance to talk to other members. During this first day, we had a chance to participate at the sutra readings, different meetings, and meet more Youth Group members. I the evening, I enjoyed very much a typical Japanese dinner, and I also had another chance to have interesting conversations with other members of the Reiyukai. I could appreciate and enjoy the curiosity, honesty and friendliness of Japanese members.
During our second day, we participated in the 22nd Branch’s celebration. It was interesting to see that
After our return to
I truly hope that you can, when reading through my story, recognize what this trip means to me. Upon return to Vancouver, I was even more determined that I want to help out and volunteer my time even more with wonderful people of Reiyukai Canada. I learned that, through philosophy and practice of it, we can do so much for the betterment of all the people. And that is exactly what is Reiyukai
I also want take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who made it possible for me to experience Reiyukai to the fullest.
Sincere regards, auf ein neues Erlebnis.
Dominik Di Leo - or Dominiku san as they say in
Member of Reiyukai
2003, by Pravesh Dookun
“The Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area, defined as Tokyo Metropolis plus the urbanized portions of three adjacent prefectures, now totals more than 27 million inhabitants; it is the largest urban area in the world. Problems that relate to crowding include traffic congestion, high land prices and rents, air and noise pollution, lack of open space and greenery, and blocked access to direct sunlight in areas of high-rise construction.”
In its immensity, Tokyo is a sprawling jungle of metal and people. It seems that there is no end or beginning to this vast jungle.
A few years ago, I lived in Tokyo for a period of 2 years, studying Japanese. Each time I came back to visit Tokyo, I am surprised to find something new. Either it is a new building, construction site or even a new fashion; it is always enjoyable to marvel at the endless possibilities this city has to offer.
We arrived in the afternoon at Narita Airport quite relaxed from our plane ride as we were so anticipating on visiting the different areas of Tokyo. The weather was “mushi-atsui” (humid) and before we knew it our clothes clinging to us as if we had just stepped out from the pool. Boy, what I would not give for Vancouver’s dry weather! We took the limousine bus to Tokyo which is a 90 minutes ride away. It is nice to ride the bus as you can catch a glimpse of the many different cars and the landscape on the way to Tokyo. As you get closer to Tokyo, you start to see the beginning of the jungle of metal: Skyscrapers reach out to touch the sky above, and endless stream of cars flood the roads, and the smoggy air creeps in like the fog. Welcome to Tokyo!
To get to our dormitory, we needed to transfer to a taxi at Tokyo station. We had to wait over 20 minutes for a special taxi to carry our luggage – “wagon-takushi” – (wagon taxi). It took us another 30 minutes to reach our final destination. Once there, we rushed to take showers to temporarily relieve ourselves of the humidity.
So here we were, finally in Tokyo! We planned out the next few days and hoped that we would be lucky when it came to the weather. You see, we had arrived in June in Tokyo. Not only is it hot and humid, it is also rainy season in Japan. It was just our luck to be in Japan at this time.
We went out for dinner and down to the supermarket to purchase items for breakfast. Food is very delicious in Tokyo, at a cost. So we bought bread and juice for our breakfast for the week. After shopping we retired for the evening.
Our first day in Japan, I woke up quite early in the morning. The sun was darting in and out of the clouds. No rain. After breakfast, we went to Tokyo Station to have a look around and proceeded to visit the Imperial Palace. On the way there we stopped at Tokyo’s International Forum. This building had caught our attention in regards to its architecture. As the clouds loomed overhead, threatening at any moment of a rainfall we made our way to the Imperial Palace which is set in the middle of Downtown Tokyo, a few blocks from Tokyo Station. It is very a beautiful expanse of land and you could imagine what it was like a few centuries ago. The closer you get to the grounds of the palace the greater the mass of tourists and inexplicably there was a sense a peace and tranquility. After looking around a bit and taking pictures, we wanted to enter the East Garden to view the Palace only to find that it was closed on Fridays! We made our way back to Tokyo Station where we took the train to Akihabara, Tokyo’s “Electric Town”. Here amongst a bustling crowd, you could find any type of electronic, phone and computer equipment at “Japanese” bargain prices! Needless to say, you could get a headache just by trying to look for one item. By now the sun had peeked its way through the clouds and we felt drenched by the combination of heat and humidity. We walk for what seemed like hours and would go into a store just for the air conditioning. It was also fun to look at all the new gadgets that people were buying. We went it one store which had these wonderful massaging chairs. We sat and enjoyed for half and hour a great and invigorating massage which covered legs, arms, feet and back. After this, we felt livened up and could walk for a few more hours.
We kept on walking, window shopping and occasionally ducking into shops and arrived at another color part of Tokyo: Ueno. In the evening, Ueno is famous for its night markets. By this time, we could hardly walk and decide to head home by subway.
We met Mie Kuwabara and Kengo Akibara that night for dinner. Together with Mr. Miyamoto, we went out to an “izagaya”, a Japanese style “tapas” restaurant where small portions of food are served with beer. I usually don’t drink beer but in Japan I had my fill. The food was amazing as was the company. Mie and Kengo have been appointed as International Youth Committee Organizers and were planning to give us a welcome party the night after. We all talked about different issues regarding Reiyukai, shared ideas and laughter. It was a great way to be welcomed to Japan!!!
The next day we decided to head out to Harajuku where shops sell a most extraordinary blend of goods reflecting the Japanese notions of "cute", "cool and American" and "rebellious and British". In other words a strange mixture of Hello Kitty, hip-hop and the infamous British punk. As for the shoppers? Well, any form of fancy dress goes.
Harajuku is also home to the Meiji Jingu Shrine. The Meiji Jingu Shrine was built in 1920. It honours the life of Emperor Meiji. Prior to the Meiji Era (1868 - 1912) Japan was a closed nation, but as ruler between 1869 and 1912 Emperor Meiji rekindled lost friendships, fostered overseas relations and in so doing, laid the foundations of modern day Japan.
After walking in the sweltering heat and doing some interesting shopping, we took a train to Shinjuku. That morning we had purchased a train pass and it was very “benri” (convenient). There we ducked into a few stores and bought a few things. As it is very crowded, we decided to take the train to Ueno to go and see Tokyo’s Western Art Museum where one can find works from great artists such as Rodin, Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh and Cezanne. It was a very impressive and surreal experience to view Rodin’s works in the forecourt of the Museum: The Thinker and the Gates of Hell. Who would have thought that these lost treasures could be found among this jungle of steel? Tokyo in all its immensity holds many secrets waiting to be found by the unwitting tourist.
That evening we had a welcome party with our branch’s Japanese youth members. We talked, laughed and shared ideas of both countries. It was very interesting to see them as many of them were from both Nagoya and Tokyo. I also had the chance to meet some members I had not seen for nearly five years. When we met, the first greeting was “O-hisashiburi desu” meaning “long time no see”. It was a wonderful and sad feeling to meet them after such a long time. That is when you realize just how many years have passed and how many people have passed though your life. I was very happy to learn that most of them are doing well in their lives and working very hard. There is still that “joie de vivre” instilled in them as there was five years earlier. And meeting the new members was also a great experience. So many of them had questions of what it is we do back in Canada! And this was a good opportunity to talk about Soup Kitchens, Cultural Dinners, Youth gatherings and Youth conferences. I learned much about what their lifestyle was. I was also approached by younger members who wanted to practice “English” and I tried to help them overcome their shyness by speaking Japanese in return. I also had the chance to meet some other youth members from the 24th youth branch who had heard that we had come to visit Japan. They tried bravely to speak to us and we all had a wonderful time communicating with each other. Everyone was so courteous and wanted only to help just like our members back in Canada. We invited them to come to Vancouver for the next youth conference in August. The night did not end as the party came to a close. Some of the members of the 24th branch and the 22nd branch took us out for a night drive. They wanted to show us the new Roppongi Hills building. As it was raining we took a quick drive and came back to the Gazenbou. There we sat around with the members of both branches and chatted the night away. It was a very fulfilling experience.
We had a chance to meet with the 22nd branch youth members again. On a Sunday evening we went to Karaoke together and enjoyed a fun-filled evening of drinking, eating and singing (something I do horribly is sing!) Japanese members are very good singers (unlike me) and some songs brought back memories of when I use to attend school in Japan. This time with the members also gave me a chance to see what they are doing in the youth group and also in their lives. At that moment, no matter how good or (bad) you sang, it was not about the singing, it was about sharing time and experience with friends, especially friends I have not seen in a long time.
I will always consider Tokyo as my second home. It has very special meaning to me, a meaning some people might not understand. This is the place where I made some decisions on how to live my life because of what I had learned through the Reiyukai. When I lived in Tokyo, my Grandmother passed away and I could not go back to Canada for her funeral. Here, I had people who supported me through this very rough period of my life. For this I will be eternally grateful as will my ancestors. Without the support of many of these members, it would have been hard to live in Tokyo. When I went back, I remembered all those who were there at my time of need. One day I hope to be there if ever I would be needed.
Thank you to Mr. Miyamoto for giving so many great opportunities to learn more about myself, the world we live in and the meaning of Reiyukai.
2003, by Ivana Vuckovic
I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Japan two times in 12 months.
The first time I was there, in October 2002, I was mesmerized with the culture, sounds, flavours, fragrances and landscapes of Japan. It was all very new for me. I wanted to see it all and yet I only had a glimpse of this new and amazing world. But the reason why I was there was not to be just a simple tourist, but to participate in the events organized by 22nd Branch of Reiyukai International. I have met many wonderful people and learned more about Reiyukai’s philosophy.
I did not think it would be possible to have better experience than that.
Then, in June 2003, I once again went back to Japan. Mr. Tom Miyamoto, president of Reiyukai Canada, Mr. Pravesh Dookun, former president of Reiyukai Youth Club of Canada and I – Ivana Vuckovic, an employee and Member of Reiyukai Youth Club of Canada were invited to participate in a ceremony organized by 22nd Branch.
As Pravesh and I noticed, the only issue of the first trip was that we did not have spend much time with people from Reiyukai Japan, in particular – Youth Group of the 22nd branch. Except Mirokusan, no other youth activities were arranged.
For that reason, and being aware of our desire to spend more constructive time with other members, Mr. Miyamoto, president of Reiyukai Canada initiated a setup of an international committee. Mr. Kengo Akiba and Ms. Mie Kuwabara were appointed as committee members responsible for the Canadian group. Here, I would like to recognize how good of a job they have done!
We arrived to Japan on Thursday afternoon, June 12. After having a free day on Friday, three of us met with Ken and Mie for dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant. The meals were delicious. We used this time together to discuss future plans and for them to explain all the activities in the days to come.
Our Saturday was also free during the day. In the afternoon, I had the honour to lead Sutra reading in English. Several youth group members from 22nd branch gathered for the reading. Even though some people are not fluent in English, they still were there with us. It meant a great deal to me. It made me feel a part of something much bigger where barriers set up by language or different cultures do not exist. This was Reiyukai’s philosophy put in practice.
After sutra reading, they took us to a big meeting room at Shakaden where they organized a welcome party for us. Many, many people came to meet us. And not just from the 22nd branch, but Youth from other branches as well. They brought all different kind of food and drinks, and we were eating, talking and getting to know each other. We were curious about them as they were about us. Furthermore, Pravesh, who used to live in Japan for two years reacquainted with some of his old friends. I have also seen many friends that I’ve got to know in Mirokusan last year. Mr. Miyamoto, knowing about the welcome party, brought many gifts from Canada and gave them out to our Japanese hosts. After the welcome party ended, some old and new friends drew us to Roppongi Hills, after which we came to Gazenbo where we stayed talking a little bit longer. Indeed, this evening was among the nicest moments of the trip.
The next day we participated in the ceremony at Shakaden organized by 22nd branch. Pravesh and I even had an opportunity to say a few words to all other members of 22nd branch. After the ceremony, there was a celebration with many delicious dishes and entertainment. Singing and dancing performances, and even Kan-Kan – Kabuki Style! Men dressed up in those French kan-kan dresses, with makeup, dancing and entertaining us with their want-to-be graciousness. :) On our way to Gazenbo, we met several Youth Members who invited us for dinner. We want to a restaurant where we had our own karaoke room. Once again, we have tried several new dishes (which I really liked), and Pravesh even dared to join other members in karaoke. Everyone was singing, talking to us, having a really good time. We also used this time to talk to other members a bit more about their activities, charity work, and ways to improve and bring new members.
Monday was also very special day for us. Mrs. Hamaguchi, Professor of Nutrition at the University of Jumonji and also Head of 22nd Branch of Reiyukai International invited us for a dinner in Japanese traditional restaurant, one hour away from the city. That was something I have never experienced in my life! The restaurant was beautiful with the most amazing Japanese garden! The menu was extraordinary with some food we have never tried before. Mrs. Hamaguchi was kind enough to explain us the history of the restaurant and the way food is prepared, presented and served at the table.
After this most extraordinary lunch we went home to rest. The next day we used for sightseeing and visiting museums in Tokyo.
On Wednesday, we have participated in another ceremony in Shakaden, organized by 8th ??? Reiyukai Branch. In the evening, we met again with several Youth Group members for a dinner. That was another wonderful evening.
During the next couple of days – before we went back to Vancouver, we had a chance to see Youth Members a few more time. One of the members invited us to his home for a dinner and showed us how hospitable Japanese people are.
When leaving to the airport, a few of the Members drove us to Tokyo station, helping us with our luggage. We were very grateful to them.
Overall, this was one amazing experience. I believe this trip opened doors to many new events to be held in the future. In August 2003, Reiyukai Canada organizes a Youth Conference where we will have members from Japan, Brazil and Thailand coming and sharing their experiences with us. We will talk about activities and charity events organized by Reiyukai, all for a purpose of learning and advancing our performances.
Most importantly, I see this only as a beginning of a great relationship between our two countries. It is upon us, Youth of Reiyukai, to expand the relationship, and to grow as better humans together.
By Pravesh Dookun, Canada
This year, 4 RYCC members accompanied Mr. Miyamoto to Japan to attend Ms. Keiko Hamaguchi’s ascent to Head of the 22nd Branch of Reiyukai.
The 4 RYCC members were:
This was the first time that new members (Ogi, Ivana and Betty) have attended Mirokusan.
In the past years, I have had the opportunity to go to Mirokusan on many occasions for the training sessions. This time was different as it only involved members of the 22nd Branch in Japan and from Canada.
On this occasion, I had the chance to meet youth members who were part of the same branch. This was good in that it showed a unity in numbers and a sense of belonging. There are many other young members from the same branch who would like to share and talk about their experiences.
On previous occasions, when I went to Mirokusan for training, it involved youth from many other different branches. Although this is a nice chance to meet other young people, it is not the same. Being able to talk with members of the same branch allows greater opportunity not only for sharing ideas (as we are the same branch) but also for keeping in contact and most importantly applying any new ideas.
This time at Mirokusan, 22nd youth branch members had greater opportunity to get to know the Canadian delegates. On past occasions, there was opportunity but no chance as many other youth branches attended Mirokusan and wanted to talk to Canadian members. Therefore although we met many youth, we never had a chance to share ideas…only share emails.
During this trip, I felt that I was part of a group, that I had a belonging in the 22nd youth branch. There were many people that I have met but did not know that they were part of the same branch.
For the other 3 RYCC members, this was a first time experience and it seems that it was a positive one. They met other people from the same branch and have made friends. It also makes it easier as in the future, they might have a chance to meet the same people when they come to Canada. This gives everyone a good feeling as we know each other.
Before leaving for Canada, we again had the chance to meet up with the same young people we had met at Mirokusan. Although it was a farewell party, many thoughts were shared. This is the first time that the youth wanted to sit down and ask about our activities in Canada and on how we could work together in the future to make the world a better place to live. They seemed very interested in the humanitarian activities that we have going here in Canada. For me it was a very good feeling to be able to talk about this. It can never be to late to talk. I also had the chance to ask a few of the members about things they might like to do if they came to Canada. This helped me to plan some sort of exchange for the upcoming year. Next time, I hope to get the opportunity to sit down longer and have a good group discussion on the things we may be able to do.
I hope that in the future that there are more training sessions involving 22nd youth branch members so that we may get to know each other on a closer basis. Whether we are in Canada or Japan, or
anywhere else in the world, we will always look back to the branch we belong and by being involved with those same branch members, make ourselves stronger human beings by practicing Awareness, Action and Development.
To make a difference, it only takes one person. To motivate that person, it takes belonging to a group. Great things can be achieved when one has the feeling of belonging.
Let us not shut the door on this opportunity.
By Ognjen Mirkovic, September 2002
It was at Narita Airport when I realized that I am not dreaming, and that a dream actually came true. Yes, I happened to be in Japan, something I wished upon ever since I was a child. Although tired and wrinkled from a lengthy flight, I glanced around with enthusiasm and curiosity. That was it, that was the start of my journey around Japan.
As we boarded the airport shuttle bus, I finally got a chance to visually taste Japan for the first time. Cruising down the freeway, I enjoyed watching the world that was very unique. As we approached Tokyo, with each mile, I could feel the heartbeat of this gigantic city, thumping harder and harder, almost in the rhythm of the vehicle’s engine.
I noticed that even though Tokyo is a massive concrete jungle, covered in cement, steel and glass, there is a huge amount of energy and spirit that powers this city. I could feel the soul of it as we approached Gazembo House.
Gazembo House is a sanctuary for Reiyukai’s guests from all over the world. Conveniently located in the heart of Tokyo, this was our Japanese home, the starting point of every little exploration we made and a resting point after our exhausting days.
And how busy we were!
It seemed like we slept for mere half an hour, when we got woken up for our first quest of this journey-a visit to Mirokusan, the heart and soul of Reiyukai. A slow train brought us to the small station at the bottom of a mountain in whose heights was Mirokusan, secluded among the centennial forests, casting a gorgeous view of the ocean, wrapped in fresh misty air, a true place of serenity.
That night and day were like an adventure. We climbed up a long flight of stone stairs, singing mantra, until we ended up in front of a (name)’s grave, a Holy Site of Reiyukai.
It takes a walk like this to fully embrace Reiyukai, to become overwhelmed with it, to understand and appreciate it. As we stood there, eyes closed, meditating on our feet, I realized that material values are vague in comparison to spiritual awareness. That moment of silence, surrounded by strong spirited people, in the mountain intact by human destruction, I experienced something good that will follow and inspire me through the rest of my life.
Down, within the building which was our home for the night, I had a chance to get to meet Japanese people and communicate with them. This was a rare opportunity to try my knowledge (or, the lack of it thereof) of Japanese language. I came across many people, all of them displaying astonishing warmth and friendliness. I knew beforehand that Japanese people are friendly, but it takes a situation like this to realize that there are no exaggerations about them. We made many friends that night, shared lots of joy and laughter. I was excited to sleep on ‘tatami’, wear ‘yukata’ and eat authentic Japanese cuisine. A few hours of semi-sleep were instantly over, when the whole community got up for the ceremony: Mrs.Hamaguchi became a director of 22nd branch. This was the main goal of our trip to Japan.
I had a rare privilege to meet Mrs.Hamaguchi beforehand, and I was very happy to see her achieve such an award. The whole ceremony was something completely new to me. The closest thing I could think of would be an experience from a church, but with many more people, in a much larger room. Accordingly, the impression was strong. In order for us to better understand the prayers and mantras, an English translator took care of interpreting the course of the whole ceremony. I am very grateful for that, since it just wouldn’t be the same without the understanding the speeches. What left the deepest impact on me were various people who shared their personal experiences and how they dealt with them through the spiritual help of Reiyukai. Many stories were deeply touching, motivating.
I have seen tears shed all over the room. It was simply…amazing.
Upon our return to Tokyo, we decided to explore Japan, starting from the south. Our first stop was Kagoshima; we strolled down its coast, visited its shrines and parks. The next stop was Aso; a volcanic region with some still active volcanoes, and beautiful scenery. Japan’s nature is in my opinion one of the most pleasant in the world. We stayed at a very hospitable hostel, met some new friends and talked to them late into the night.
This region is known for ‘onsens’, or hot springs, heated up by volcanoes, completely natural and authentic. There is an abundance of them, each offering something unique and choosing among them was difficult job. Once emerged in very hot water, one can feel a complete body relaxation. The smell of sulfur is all around. After a long bath, I felt simply happy. Stress free.
My next stop was in Beppu, a coastal town whose blend of nature’s wonders and night entertainment attracts a fair share of tourists every year. Beppu’s night life will remain in my memory as a sea of large neon signs combined with clicking sounds of thousands of Pachinko machines, all over the place. Beppu’s nature, however was something I have never seen before. Up in the hills, there are about a dozen of ‘jigoku’, natural pools of water and mud, combined with geysers and other phenomena. It is something that just has to be seen. The colours, sounds and the smell of it, the nature, it all seemed like an imagery cut out from someone wildest dream.
On our way back to Tokyo, we made a brief stop in Hiroshima, to pay a visit to the site which signifies a destruction of the modern era. Strolling down the Peace Memorial Park, its various sites, monuments and museums, I have learn much more about a horrible tragedy that took place only 57 years ago. I have seen the other side of the Hiroshima story, I learnt again that violence is never the solution. My hope is that people realize the same.
The rest of my trip was spent in Tokyo, with a daily trip to Kyoto’s temples, castles and shrines. Tokyo just couldn’t be explored for such a short time. Sometimes I get the feeling that even a whole life isn’t sufficient to visit every corner of this megalopolis. With the help of its amazing subway system, we hopped from one station to another, walking over Tokyo streets, eating amazing Japanese food and taking plenty of pictures of this world, amazing in every sense.
The scenes of crowds of people storming in every direction, constant traffic congestion, a supersonic tempo of living was leaving me breathless on more than one occasion.
A mixture of high-tech and long time traditions is something that I have never seen in my share of travelling. What was even more astonishing is the helpfulness, warmth and general friendliness of people. I am using this opportunity to express my gratefulness to the staff of Reiyukai International Office, who helped us on many occasions and made our trip even more enjoyable.
Every day had something new to offer. Shopping in Shibuya and Ginza or walking down the beach in Odaiba, it all had a distinct taste to it, and a very sweet one. We managed to get a glimpse of how Japanese people live their every day lives. It seems like something I would like to try in the future.
The days went by, and in no time I happened to be at Narita Airport, waiting to take off and fly far away from Japan. That is where I realized that sometimes, somehow, I have to manage to come back, for another visit. There was so much more that Japan has to offer, and just so little time. Besides, I made many friends there who I would love to see again.
A piece of my heart now belongs to Japan.
It is of an utmost importance to mention that without Mr. Tom Miyamoto this journey would have not been possible. I simply can’t express how much this trip meant to me and how much I am grateful for all that he has done for us. Therefore, I dedicate this tale to him.