For the last several years there has been a Kyudo/Zen retreat at Genjo-ji Sonoma Mountain Zen Center. I went to the last two, my regular readers may recall. The first year was brutal temps in the 100’s, Last years was on the cool side, with rain and fog, but it was still nice, most pleasant in fact.
This year I did not go, with starting the new jobs, having just returned from Japan ($$), changing styles, I felt it best not to attend. However my roots are with this group and after several years of study, relationships have formed, beyond the political posturing of the Kyudo powers. Here with those whose minds are reaching for the Tao of non-duality, Kyudo is Kyudo. So I did go by to visit.
It was my plan to take LZ and my visiting cousin up to the Zen Center, they could meet the Kyudoka, tour the grounds and have lunch. I would take some pictures to post on the various websites I am managing for my Chikurin-ha family. It is ok, to have two families, that is the way of the world, One has their birth family , one has their spouse’s family. One has their father’s side family, one has their mother’s side family. Family is family, Kyudo is Kyudo. Anyway my intent was to go to the mountain and get back in time to go to my Kyudo class with Sensei.
We left about 8:00 am heading to the mountain. The ladies slept all the way there mostly. Since they had been up until 2 or 3 in the morning talking, they were out of it!!!! Even though we had to basically stop about 300 yards from the entrance as LZ was getting car sick, we got to the center in good time. That sickness passed once we arrived. Our first stop was in the dining hall, I dropped off some lemons I had picked, we use the facilities, had some water.
The staff there was very nice and welcoming when I explained who we where. From there I took the ladies on a tour of the garden. They were very impressed with that. The flowers, the food, the herbs.
Our next stop was the meditation hall. The converted and redesigned barn. It is a warm feeling place, all the meditation chi, all the wood. The huge statue of Kwan Yin. It is always a up lift to go in there. It would have been nice to be able to do a sitting, but as they start at 5:30 am , that was not possible.
Upon leaving we came across my Senpai from RSD, intros were made. LZ had spoken with him several times on the phone when he called, so she was pleased to finally connect the face.
From there is was a walk down the into the valley to the Kyudo area practice. The first person we saw was the young Priest we came across at the airport on the way to Japan. He was also on the way to Japan for some Zen study. It was good to see him, he was there practicing with the Kyudo group as he had started about the same time I first came up. We chatted a bit about our trips to Japan, before he went back to practice.
Next intros were made all around to the rest of the group to my girls. LZ was surprised a couple spoke Japanese. Afterward she remarked, this is the first time I’ve met your Kyudo people, they all are nice. She was impressed with the warmth of the welcome they received.
We watched just a little and I grabbed a few quick shots before I took them to another part of the grounds were the memorial Shrines are setup for a couple of founders, one being Suzuki-sama. We needed to take a walk through the woods to get there.
It was a pleasant walk down , but it did take some time. LZ was running out of steam. They both enjoyed the sights, but not so much the bugs. After a short visit and a break we headed back to the main area. As they were walking in slow-mo I went ahead and was meet by a Senpai, the closing ceremony was about to begin, he came to fetch me.
I made it back just in time to do some video and take some pictures of the closing as well as get a few group shots. Good timing! Yokatta! That was part of the main reason for the trip.
Once that was done we all head up the mountainside to the dining room for Lunch.
It was a simple lunch of Zucchini soup and a salad with homemade bread. The final lunch is usually simple. It was however still excellent. LZ and my cousin raved about the soup. Especially LZ, who said she does not like Zucchini but loved this meal. It tasted so fresh and wholesome.
After lunch we stopped at the little store they have on site to pick up a few souvenirs I wanted to send to Japan and my cousin wanted to take back to Atlanta. They have meditation pillows, incenses, T-shorts, books, pictures, cards, statues, the like.
That wrapped up the visit, so after a bit of Chit chat we headed back down the mountain. We arrived a little later than planned, LZ called to work saying she would be a little late, 20 mintues. I was too late to make it to Kyudo practice. Never the less it was a good day trip.
More pictures can be seen here: