Probably final entry in Japan.
Zen center was great. So yesterday evening, Lester (older guy from NY, now living in Japan), his daughter Katee ("double", grew up in Japan going to gaijin schools), and her husband Max (from Manchester, early 30s maybe) arrived. We all went down to the main zendo, in walking mediation down the streets for a few minutes. The roshi came out for this, which was cool (he apparently just got back into town).
Lester was having some problem with the sitting - turns out he has some health issues. At first I was getting a little annoyed, then the compassion kicked in a bit. I remembered a verse from Ikkyu: "Don't wait for the man standing next to you to cut off his own arm/ help him now"
Afterward we had informal tea, as we had Monday. I think I valued this the most of all, to check Gemma and Bjorn (Gemma is the senior monk, Bjorn a three-year resident of the center) in everyday conversation, to get a feel of whether I was heading in the same general direction they are. (I feel that I am.)
This morning, 5am service, chanting, the roshi cam down again. Then kinhin, tachi zen, and a good bit of zazen again. Breakfast, then cleaning (I learned to vacuum tatami the proper way), then some labor (washing windows, it was raining so they didn't put us in the garden). Then lunch; a new arrival, a Japanese guy. His wife(?) who was dropping him off stayed for lunch. I shared a cab ride to the station, and the train back to Kyoto, with her, we made small talk about Zen and stuff.
Then back here to good ol' Bentencho, where I finalized the bills for the apartment (and got my deposit back) and am now packing it all up.
Quite a day. Quite a trip.
Maryland, see you soon. Nihon, see you again in a few months.