Matsumoto-shi, Japan

I don’t always take good pictures but I thought this one of the castle here in Matsumoto, Japan turned out pretty well. So many things catch my eye from time to time and I just don’t always seem to get the picture I see in my mind recorded properly. In some ways, on this sunny day, it came out even better than in my eye. The only problem is that the picture doesn’t let you see how large this edifice truly is. It was completed in the 16th century and is truly beautiful. With the exception of the God made mountains that lie at the outskirts of the city, this is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen during this visit.

The week has gone well with very fine rehearsals and loads of HOT and HUMID weather. I had checked the weather for Matsumoto occasionally this summer before flying over but didn’t really expect things to be this sticky. Still, I’ll take it over snow any day. The cast for “Salome” is VERY strong here and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

I’m happy I’ll be joined by a friend from England when we attend Mass tomorrow morning here in Japan. Last week, I only understood “Alleluia” and “Amen” as those were the only familiar words in Japanese and Tagalog (a group from the Philippine community was worshipping with us as well). No matter where I go, being able to attend Mass and know that the same readings are being said around the world in every Catholic Church each week truly moves me.

Tonight, Matsumoto had what must be one of their largest festivals of the year. The streets of this city (pop. just over 225,000) were jammed with people as the traditional Bon-Bon Festival took place. One web site calls it part parade, part dance, part party, and part carnival. So many different groups from around the city take part and all come together to travel the streets performing this wondrous dance with music playing through speakers on every street corner. It is a wonderful thing to see as the citizens of all ages take part. What a fabulous tradition. The costumes, the liveliness, and fun was just incredible to see. The entire journey through the streets (it’s not a straight route) takes about 4 hours. It all ends up at the castle where I’m sure one last dance takes place. And everyone is doing the same dance at the same time. Amazing. I watched very small children, teenage children, young adults, old adults, and very old adults all taking part. Oh, could we use something like this in many of our U.S. cities to promote community, health, and joy!!