May 22:

Time to move on. We took the shinkansen (bullet-train) to Kyoto and then transferred in the Kyoto station to a conventional train to Tenri. In Tenri we checked into another Tenrikyo Center and another dorm. This one had unusually spacious rooms. We found out that each of these rooms is normally intended to sleep about 20 people! The room in which Heidi and I stayed had futon mattresses on the floor. There were communal toilets down the hall for all the residents of our floor, but to bathe we had to go to the public bath in another building. Here we had the same routine we had encountered at the other public baths we went to. I was starting to get used to it.

Heidi, Ken, Kay, and I did a little walking exploration of the little town of Tenri. There was a huge shopping arcade with criss-crossing pedestrian streets going through it. Young people on bicycles glided by. Ken and Kay went off to shop and Heidi and I had a late lunch at a modest little eatery we found. There were no other customers in the place and the proprietor was an old man who appeared to be a little drunk. But the food was very good and we left feeling rejuvenated and at peace with the world, met up with our friends and walked back to the dorm. In the evening I had a shakuhachi lesson with Ronnie Seldin, on “Takiochi.”

May 23:

In the morning we were invited to listen to the first Besseki lecture on the history and principles of Tenrikyo. Ken and Kay and I attended, and listened to an English translation of the lecture through headsets while we sat in the lecture hall. Afterward the five of us took a train to Nara, had lunch at a restaurant called Line (their motto: “Emotion dining”), then walked around for hours sightseeing. We visited the national museum of Nara and the Todaiji and Kofukuji temples, whose architecture was spectacular. The parks and the temple grounds in Nara are populated by many deer, regarded as messengers of the gods in Shintoism, which are completely tame and which walk freely among people and even eat from people’s hands. We took the train back to Tenri in the evening.

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