Friday, January 12, 2007

Ebisu, the god of wealth

Ebisu is well known as "Ebessan" in Kansai area of Japan. Many Ebisu shrines in western part of Japan holds Ebisu Festival from January 9 through 11 every year. Since he is the god of wealth and commerce, those shrines are crowded on the days with lots of merchants and people who want to be "well-to-do." My husband runs a small company with his bother and therefore annually he visits one of Ebisu shrines near his office and gets a bamboo rake, wishing his business flourishing.
The picture is what he got for us along with the bigger one for his office for the year of 2007. He said that the bamboo rake with many good-luck articles cost 4500 yen, which I think was quite expensive. I'm not sure if it brings us wealth (I really hope though…), but the Ebisu shrine definitely made a large profit just for 3 days!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Wonderful and Miracle Story

I know it might be a bit too late but want to share the following wonderful and miracle story with my cyber friends. The story is written on the back side of the letter sent to us by a family in Idaho. As the host family for our daughter when she was an exchange student, what they provided was much more than just a place to stay and eat. It is more than 10 years since I saw them last, but we still exchange season's greetings once a year.

The Tablecloth

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work.They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished.

On December 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginnibg about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.

On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flee market-type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it has started to snow. An older woman running from the opposit direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.

Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor," she asked, "Where did you get that tablecloth?" The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and she never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home - that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housekeeping job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor recognaized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike. He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follw her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of the stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

True Story - submitted by Pastor Rob raid

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year Holidays

Nothing special, but my New Year's holidays have passed very peacefully so far.

On the morning of New Years Day, hubby and I saw the first sunrise of the year and visited both of our parents'. Family gathering is always pleasant and a bit tiredsome later on.
Mom in law is going to celebrate her 78 birthday late this month. She is extremely fine and enjoys practicing Japanese dancing. She even appears on the stage once in a while. As a daughter-in-law, I'm very happy to see her quite hale and hearty.

My mom, now 81 years old on the other hand, has developed a mild dementia since grandma passed away 2 years ago. For the present she can manage an ordinary life with the aid of my dad. Her condition varys from day to day but I assume that it is getting worse little by little. Dad is as old as mom and certainly getting old, too. I don't know how long they can live by themselves. I want to help them whenever they are in need of me. Too much aid accelerates their aging, but too little aid won't be good for them, either. It seems difficult to put the right aid on the right time. This would be one of my tasks for 2007.

On January 2, the big department stores reopened for business, holding their "fukubukuro" (lucky bag) sales to kick off the new year. Neither hubby nor I like a crowd and so we stayed home all day long, just reluxing and watching a 10-hour TV drama " Chushingura (Forty-seven Ronin)," a very famous samurai revenge story.

On January 3, which is today, we went to see "Letters from Iwao Jima." During the holidays theaters are crowded, but as far as this movie concerned, we saw fewer people than I expected in the theater. The movie, based on a true story, was good, actors (particularly Kazunari Ninomiya) did an excelent job and Clint Eastwood as a director deserves special mention! The movie is all in Japanese and Clint Eastwood's point of view is always that of a third-party throughout the movie. Therefore I entirely forgot while I was seeing the movie that it was directed by an American. Dealing with war, such point of view is very important and essential, I suppose... In that sense I should see the other movie "Flags of Our Fathers," too so that I can have more detailed knowledge and fair perspective on the war of Iwo Jima.

Tomorrow is the last day of the holidays for both of us. We may go to a shrine or just stay home and relax. Hubby will start his work on January 5 and I will start mine Monday next week.
Are we ready to go back to an ordinary life? Not yet... :-(