About a month or so ago, I met a very nice gentleman as our Ohenro tour bus was cruising through Kochi. Manfred, from Germany, was at Kokubunji and seeing a fellow expatriate, as I always do, I said, “Hello.”
Now, there are different kinds of expatriates who come to Japan. Some are very friendly, like Manfred. Some are not so friendly. And yet others, may feel insulted that other expatriates are “intruding” on their unique experience of drinking in the Japanese atmosphere, culture, and all things “wabi-sabi”. In the worst cases, my greeting is ignored and a cold shoulder turned. I have a dubbed this phenomena, “the gaijin snub”.
Manfred was having none of that. I said “Hi”. He said, “Hi.” And within moments we were talking and getting to know each other. Sadly, my group was hustling through the temple and I had to get on the bus with them, or fear being left behind in the parking lot. I passed my contact information to Manfred and invited him for dinner in Takamatsu when he arrived. He graciously accepted and we had a very nice visit, complete with pasta and beer (yay!).
Talking with Manfred made me realize that we should have something on this site about the experiences that expatriate pilgrims are having on the 88 Buddhist Temple Pilgrimage. So, with that in mind, Manfred again graciously accepted to be “interviewed” by me and answered a set of questions that I have prepared.
My plan is to interview a bunch of different people with the same questions and then post them all together in a new section on this site. I think that would be interesting and maybe of some use to people thinking about coming this way and giving the pilgrimage a shot themselves. So, if you are someone who would like to be “immortalized”, or who would not mind the intrusion, I would very much like to send you my set of questions and have you send them back my way, with a photo of yourself as well. Send me an email at: email@example.com.
There are many people who walk these miles, and we have a chorus of pilgrims who have tales to tell. I am hoping to bring these voices to the forefront so that others can hear, and learn, and feel the same inspiration that brought you to walk all those miles.
Manfred in on his way towards Temple 88!
All the best! Travel safe!