Oh Japan. How thou hast sweetly wooed this western heart…
(little too shakespeare-y? note taken. moving on.)

In my time in Japan, I’ve had my ideas of beauty radically shifted. I mean, I’ve always had a deep-seated wanderlust & I’ve intentionally set out to let seeing the world change me, but MAN. I just didn’t see this fool coming!
From the first day when 3 men helped us roll our bags to a waiting-on-us bus & we drove into a Tokyo sunset, I was awestruck. & it hasn’t stopped.

“Send me the sunset I love the most…when I’m in Tokyo”

It’d probably be silly to make a List Of All The Japanese Things I Love The Most…
[1. little kids in matching caps
2. tiny coffee shops
3. vending machines with cold coffee
4. Starbucks on every corner & in every train station
5. coffee (too obvious?)
6. best everyday fashion I’ve ever seen (& I spent 5 weeks in Italy. Sorry, Japan wins.)
7. ALL THE RESTAURANTS: indian, ramen, yakiniku…ALL OF THEM.
8. walking & train-ing everywhere (thanks to Allie, for the verb-age)
9. mountain sunsets every day!
10. overwhelming societal kindness]
…right? Ok, good. Then I definitely won’t do THAT.

Recently, I’ve had what I deem to be more than my fair share of beauty in distinctly Japanese packaging. There is a saying at Japanese tea ceremonies, “There is only one encounter.” The meaning behind it is essentially that you should be motivated to serve your guest tea as if they were the only person you would ever serve tea, thus giving it your all every time. (& we thought we were being clever with our YOLO. HA. Japan’s had that on lock for CENTURIES.)

Isn’t that beautiful?
This day.
This moment.
There is only one encounter.
What about my life would change if I served others as if they were the only person I would get to serve?
There is only one encounter.
Would I go slower?
There is only one encounter.
Would I be so preoccupied with what’s coming next?
There is only one encounter.

The traditional tea ceremony takes over an hour.
An HOUR just to drink tea.
To take time to serve and be served.
To revel in the goodness of that warm cup & the kindness of your friend.
To demonstrate, in a tangible way, how much your guest means to you.
There is only one encounter.

Enjoying this day with Chieko-san & Mieko-san warmed my heart in a way that only lavish hospitality can. This welcome, this invitation, this lingering spoke of something we are all longing for: to belong to each other; to be welcomed into something greater than ourselves; to be given a place at the table.

At what table are you sitting today?
To what table can you invite the one who doesn’t belong?
To lavish on them the grace of hospitality? The welcome of a friend? The invitation?
I created another iMovie of our tea ceremony. It’s 6 hours long. SIKE! Less than 5 minutes. Please enjoy if you’ve ever been curious about what it’s like & let the simplicity encourage you to offer what you have to another.
It need not be elaborate; only enough.

Tea Ceremony Video

The Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival:
(WARNING: I’m about to bomBARD you with cherry blossom pictures. If these are not your thing or might incline you to say, “I mean REHLLY, there are simply TOO many photographs!” in a British accent, please scroll.) (I would also like to point out that the spell check gave me the option of changing ‘British’ to ‘brutish’ and DAHLING, that REHLLY set me to LAUGHING!)


There was a geyser that went off several times a day and we made it! #winning
I. Love. Rainbows.
when all the work trucks are matchy, but not TOO matchy…


This tree hadn’t turned all the way and I liked it the best. The Almost Tree.


Pinecones anyone? 3 for $10!
I put a cherry blossom in my cherry blossom ice cream and was the talk of the town…I assume that’s what they were pointing and talking about…
This is a 1,000 year old tree…
let that sink in…
It’s customary at temples to leave all the trees untouched.
Sections might die, but the tree grows around them & all the dead & broken parts become part of its beauty. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere, I’m sure of it.
More hina dolls!!!
Oakie wanted this picture included because it has a tire in it & that reads redneck to him.
Also, this hotel bus we passed as we stopped along the coast…


Oh Captain, my Captain!

This day was as close to perfection as it maybe gets this side of heaven:
Perfect weather.
Beautiful cherry blossoms.
Ice cream that TASTED like cherry blossoms.
A walk by the sea.
1,000 year old trees.

…and I thought I’d seen beauty already.
It’s everywhere y’all.
Look for it today & if you don’t see it, create it.
Invite that friend or that almost-friend.
Watch their face light up when you ask them to tell you their story, their favorites, their bests.

There is only one encounter.



5 thoughts on ““There Is Only One Encounter”

  1. Great post. “There is only one encounter.” I love that.

    I’ve been trying to read this post for days but on my laptop, it comes up fragmented–halves of sentences and corners of photos. #frustration
    But I finally got the bright idea to try to view it on my phone because I have one of the smart ones now, and it worked! Has anyone else mentioned if they’ve had trouble viewing it or is it just my ancient computer that has issues? #loveyou


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