A short extract of a post that features in my book about the Great East Japan Earthquake, The Teas That Bind:
Often in class I find I am learning as much as the students. While they pick up the essentials of English grammar and usage, along with certain vignettes about British life, I am gaining too. Not merely an insight into Japan and its culture but also an alternative perspective on what it is to be human spinning around on this big rock we call home. Aside from all the surface differences, I am realising that people are people, with more in common than not.
This week I was given an insight into the Obon holiday. If I had thought about it at all it was as a nice long break in the middle of Japan’s hottest season, a chance to head home, cool my blood down a few degrees and catch up with much-missed friends and family. To sleep in my old bed under my mother’s roof again, stuff myself with sausages, roast potatoes and maybe a few Jaffa Cakes, luxuriate in the first two-week holiday since the Christmas break and tell my tales over pub tables, was my plan.
A lot of people think that Obon is just an excuse for a holiday, a chance to go overseas. They are forgetting what it means
I was told. And I thought, how comforting. I am sure a lot of regular church attenders would say the same about Christmas and how it has become an excuse for too much food, bad TV and winter sun.