Each morning here finds me at some point out in front of the trailer doing my morning workout. I used to do this in the small street that passes by. Residential streets in Japan really are small. In order for two small cars to pass, one has to pull over and come to a complete stop. My little street is used by some people as a short cut and therefore receives more traffic than would be normally generated by the neighbourhood.
The result of the above was that my tai chi and bagua forms would be interrupted at various times by an approaching car. I would notice the impending occurrence and maintaining my state as best I could step to the side of the street. Then, as the cars would pass, I would make a small bow to the drivers. Some would be surprised the first time this happened, however, almost all would bow back. If it was a repeat performance, their bow would be a genuine greeting. This would also occur with people out for a stroll with their dogs or kids going to school.
There is a lot of bowing in Japan. In the supermarket, the cashier will make a formal bow after giving you your change. There is the temptation by foreigners to write off such bows as just form and no substance. What I have found in such situations is that when I return the bow with sincerity, then, the substance of the bow is in existence and we both feel it. A bow can be a very beautiful gesture.
There is a child and mother who wait at the t-junction just close by each weekday morning for a brightly coloured kindergarten school bus. The bus has a woman driving and another woman who attends to the children. The attendant gets off the bus and approaching the mother and child, greets them and escorts the child back onto the bus. As they drive by me the driver gives a little bow and the attendant waves while encouraging the children to wave as well. What a big smile stretches my face as I wave back.
A few weeks ago, I cleared a section of the area that my trailer shares. It’s is full of large gravel set down to hold car parking. I began to practice my forms without the interruptions. It is such a pleasure to be able to move smoothly through my forms. Yet, I do miss the morning ritual of making way. I still get to wave to the kindergarten crew and say hello to the occasional person and dog who pass by. As a part of my exercise, I take a walk up the nearby street past houses where I encounter other walkers and sometimes someone out in his or her garden. I have even had short conversations at times. (Very short due to my limited vocabulary.)
Then, there have been a few mornings when I am walking along and see a person approaching slowly. The person’s head is down, there is a slight hunch of the shoulders and almost a shuffle in the walk. When I get close, I say my ‘good morning’ and suddenly a face pops up surprised and a shining smile appears immediately followed by an enthusiastic ‘good morning’. Yeh, what a good morning.
Ohayo Gozaimusu, Kundan