Iwanuma Station

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It was a grueling eighteen hour flight to Japan in cramped seating in April of 1979; the China Airlines discount flight from LA to Narita.  We were so exhausted from the flight and dragging our nine bags of luggage around that we decided to stay one night in Tokyo.  We had no idea when we would finally arrive in Iwanuma.  The next day, we were just about ready to leave the hotel room.  “Why don’t you call your dad and tell him we are coming”.   He ignored me and gathered up some bags and we left for the train station.  The ride to Iwanuma was just about two hours long.

As we approached our stop, my husband told me “Iwanuma is a small stop, so we only have 30 seconds to get everything off the train”.  We stacked the nine bags at the train door and when it stopped,  my husband jumped off first and I rapidly tossed him bags. I barely cleared the train when it began to pull away.  I straightened out my jacket and then looked up and saw a horrifying sight…..a massive, steep staircase that seemed to go up forever, a bridge over the tracks, and another huge stairway going down, and the exit doors beyond that.  “Oh no!”, I groaned, “why didn’t you call your dad when you had the chance? How are we going to get all these bags across?”  Just then, the doors across the tracks pushed open.  “There he is”, my husband said with some indignation in his voice.  “No need to call him. He has his own telephone”, pointing to his temple.

When Zenji arrived over to our side of the track he told my husband that he had, indeed, just arrived and added that he had simply suddenly gotten the feeling that it was time.  I pondered that in silence during the ride to the house while my husband and father in law chattered away.  The stories were real.  He was the real thing.   He was.

We were there at least a week before my mother in law shared a Zenji experience with me.  Here is what she said:

“Zenji and I had just married.  He asked for tea, so I went into the kitchen to prepare it for him.  When I came back to the room with his tea, he wasn’t there.”  ( To be factual, she had said that she couldn’t see him).  “I was confused because I called out to him and he answered me and his voice was coming from the spot where he had been sitting, but I couldn’t see him.”   Zenji was with us when she told me the story and he was smiling and laughing. “Yes”, he added.  I was teasing her! She couldn’t see me!”.  He took a sip of his sake and leaned in toward me becoming suddenly serious.  He reached across the table, took hold of a water glass and set it on the table in front of me saying  “If I have an object even as small as this, I can hide from you.  I am there, but I can interfere with your mind’s ability to see me.”  It was time for him to show me his scrolls.

My husband’s sister brought over a wooden box and she opened it with that amazing Japanese ceremonial flair and carefully unrolled one of the scrolls.  My father in law pointed to the red ink and explained “That is my blood.  We had to write our oaths in our own blood.  I had to promise to never abuse my powers and to defend the weak and the helpless, to obey all the high principles.  These promises had to be given with my blood”.

To be continued