What a whirlwind! I think I counted that throughout the day today we got onto and off of 10 different trains! I love the Tokyo subway and train system. I think the longest we waited for a train was 2 minutes.
We started out early today by going to St. Alban's, which is Chikako's Parish Church. It is on the grounds of the Diocesan compound right next to St. Andrew's (the Cathedral). St. Andrew's is a Japanese speaking congregation, and St. Alban's is English speaking, with American and British expats and others (including Japanese) in attendance. St. Alban's is truly multicultural! I loved the beams in the church ceiling!
We did a bit of shopping and sight seeing this morning. It was a beautiful tourist shopping area, decorated for autumn. We all found fun things to buy for friends and family.
There was a beautiful temple at the end of the row of shopping stalls. As we walked down and looked st the different booths, I couldn't help but think of the impact the typhoon (or inclement weather) has on this basically open air market. Steve and Anna stopped for an ice cream burger (it was an ice cream sandwich!)
We then went for lunch and ate this amazing grilled vegetable patty with other ingredients either on top, in it, or both. I had beef -- delicious, it was so much fun to watch the men cooking the patties as we sat there at the grill.
It was good to sit for a bit before we headed out again. We enjoyed tea and each other's company.
It was time -- you guessed it -- to get into yet another train. We did so gladly, running behind Chikako as she zipped along the streets of Tokyo.
We were taken to a very small museum in the compound of the United Church of Japan -- WAM. As I cried yesterday at Hope House, I fought back tears at the stories of women who were taken and set up as "comfort women" for Japanese soldiers during WWII. It was just Korean women who were taken and used in this way -- women from the Philippines, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Indonesia, etc.
The women who came forward and agreed to have their stories told publicly were brave -- some, due to the shame, waited until their spouses passed away. The first one who came forward did so after a government statement saying that "it never happened" was issued -- anger at what had been done to them brought this woman -- and others -- out of hiding their stories to speak out.
The mural in this picture was done by a Filipina who was taken and kept as a "comfort woman" -- it depicts what was done to her and others -- it was difficult to study because the images and the words (in English) were painful. The women were forced to work during the day at various jobs and then were expected to "comfort" the men -- sometimes many in one night. There were pictures of men lined up outside, looking in through windows as to what was going on. There were pictures of the women, including one who had become pregnant by one of the soldiers -- she was one of the women who came forward and was willing to share her story publicly -- the baby was born dead.
Japanese soldiers, years later, also offered their stories to corroborate the stories of the women. The Japanese government recently again tried to downplay (read deny) the existence of this situation stating that the women came voluntarily to existing brothels.
We also learned that boys were taken as well and were raped by Japanese soldiers -- their stories are more difficult to capture because of the shame they felt and feel. Only four (I think that is what I heard) are confirmed, but the suspicion is that there were many others.
The other issue that came up was that this is not something limited to the Japanese. Women in Okinawa have come forward with claims of rape by US soldiers -- this museum and gathering point for these stories showed us maps of where the women reported that they were raped on Okinawa. We were also told that people in Okinawa feel marginalized from mainland Japanese, and this situation doesn't help as they are largely ignored by the Japanese government.
As with Hope House, this was a very heavy visit.
I think Chikako knew we all had heavy hearts leaving the museum, so she took us for a bit of a diversion. We got on a train and got off to look for two things -- ice cream and a porcelain shop for me to purchase something for a friend. The ice cream shop she wanted to take us to had closed but the porcelain shop was still there -- thank goodness for that -- but it was more than a little surreal after what we just saw and heard.
We hopped on another train to go to a stop for ice cream -- yes, we did. Got off the train and got on another one just to have amazing ice cream.
We then boarded yet another train to go to back to the Diocesan Center to meet with members of the clergy. We spoke with the Dean of the Cathedral (a woman) and with her mentor Fr. Bart who was instrumental in getting the vote to allow for women's ordination in Japan. There are still two dioceses in Japan that don't recognize women's ordination.
We talked with William the Rector at St. Alban's before he had to head out. It was also great to see Grace, the priest I met three years ago in Seoul for the celebration of the opening up of ordination to women -- she came over with the then new Bishop Oohata for that day! It was great to see her and to catch up a bit. We talked about the role of women in the ministry in Japan and in the United States. It was a good discussion.
It was after 7pm when we finally headed to dinner.
Here are a few more pictures from today
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