I have much to still to process about the 50 year Midorikai reunion. I think overwhelmingly it was being in the company of those who have had the experience of studying tea in Japan. Everyone learns how to get into kimono in less than ideal conditions. Everyone starts as a beginner learning to walk, sit and stand again. Everyone struggles with the nuance of language, etiquette and expectations of being a Midorikai student. Everyone knows what it is like to not get enough sleep because your toban begins at 5 am.
Also everyone has participated in incredible, once in a lifetime events, and experienced things no tourist could ever dream of. We have all met people who we have only heard about and bonded with others who will remain in our lives and hearts for a lifetime and beyond. Meeting legends of Midorikai who we have heard many stories about, meeting old teachers, meeting new faces.
Revisiting places I used to go. I think everyone has their special place along the Kamogawa where they went to get away. The regular haunts where we would talk and eat and drink late into the night. The old shop where the couple who ran it would always give you a little extra “service.” The sweets shops where you favorite sweets are still sold.
Even as I exited the train in Kyoto eki the smell of Kyoto was somehow telling me I made it back home again. I’ll tell you a story about my last day in Midorikai. It was the first of April and the sakura were blooming, and I ran to my place by the river crying because I did not want to leave. I had finally gotten the hang of how to live in Japan, how to conduct myself so I wasn’t scolded all the time, and now I had to leave. My senior sempai came and found me there, crying. He said, “I know how you feel. I felt the same way when I had to leave Japan the first time. But you have now spent a year in Oiemoto’s house under his care. How can you not come home again?” And so I feel every time I visit Kyoto it is like coming home again.