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A Moment of Zen at Seiryoin

I’ve mentioned before how much I love Seiryoin Temple. Wherever you are in Japan, it always seems like there’s a temple no further than a stone’s throw away. But what makes Seiryoin special isn’t just its history, its deep connection to the local community, or the unique role it served as an emergency response center during the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku tsunami. It’s a combination of all of those things, of course. But what really makes this temple worth a visit is the monks who live here. Abbot Miura and his two sons, Kendo and Shodo always welcome visitors from afar with open arms and hearts. And this family is the reason I keep coming back here.

A few weeks ago, we had the chance to welcome some exchange students who are currently studying at Tohoku University. They made the long drive up from Sendai to come visit us, so we started off the day with some Zen meditation in the main hall of the temple.

The main hall offers a beautiful ocean view from between the cedar trees. It’s nice to just zone out and take it all in.
There are many different variations of Zen meditation. In some schools, there is dialogue during the meditation session, where practitioners pose questions to themselves. Seiryoin however, follows the Soto school; so no dialogue, just quiet reflection.

After the Zen session, we moved to the temple kitchen to prepare lunch! Shodo-san showed us how to make hatto (dumplings) for use in hatto-jiru. Hatto-jiru is a staple of home-cooked food in Miyagi Prefecture. Historically it was a popular everyday meal, especially in seasons where rice was scarce. The soup also calls for vegetables like carrots and Japanese radish, and is flavored with soy sauce and sake.

In Kesennuma, the “hatto” dumplings are actually referred to as “tsumeri.” You can find variations of this dish throughout Tohoku.
Adding the right amount of water is a delicate balance
Shodo-san said that the hatto dumplings that the Italian students made came out better than his own! (Maybe because they have experience kneading pasta dough?)
Time to add the dumplings now

After lunch, our visitors had plans in Tome, so we sent them along their way. However short a time, it’s always a pleasure to share a meal with new friends!

The rest of us didn’t have anything else planned for the evening, so we decided to go out for dinner, and of course… karaoke!

Case in point…

Just another day in Kesennuma…

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