“Ichigo, Ichie”

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The Japanese have a saying, “Ichigo, Ichie.”  Every encounter in life is a unique event.  You cannot re-create the moment because conditions inevitably change within and around one after the experience.  So, appreciate and treasure it.

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Nisky Hill cemetery

Yesterday morning [March 31] was overcast with intermittent drizzle.  Although most of us would prefer sunny days, beauty can be found on such days.

Ron Yoshida

Ron’s rovings: March 21

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Ron Yoshida

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Saturday, 21 March, in the courtyard behind the Sun Inn.  I was walking and came upon these two women who were practicing social distance.  They told me that they regularly walked their children together before the call for social distancing.  They were getting together to share coffee and their recent experiences.  I liked the “No Parking” sign between them.

Ron’s rovings: March 16

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Ron Yoshida

Yoshida 1Memorial Walk at Lehigh on Monday, 16 March.  The beloved or perhaps infamous sculpture by Seward Johnson was decorated with the expected mask and gloves.  What was unexpected was a copy of Camus’s Plague.  Note the date when I took the photo.  An article appeared in the New York Times, two or three days later, that discussed the Plague in the context of our current health crisis.  Bravo to the Lehigh students who thought about this idea before the Times article.  The sign that a good liberal arts education might have taken hold with some of our students.

Ron reflects on his Temple journey

logo 8th in a series of posts on Ron Yoshida’s pilgrimage logo


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Ron Yoshida talked about his 88 Temple, 800 mile, 48-day journey in Japan at First Presbyterian last Monday.

He concluded answering three questions.

  • Did the journey restore one’s faith in mankind?


  • Do I feel that I honored my grandparents?


  • What does it mean to be a Japanese American?


The answer to that last question will delight you. Listen in.


“Please wear the clothes of the Buddha’s great compassion.”
Kukai (Kobo Daishi)

Buddha: “I am the awakened one.”

Ron Yoshida on his Japanese journey

logo (8th in a series of posts on Ron Yoshida’s pilgrimage) logo

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We followed follower Ron on his 88 temple henro.

And now he tells all.

“88 Buddhist Temples”

at the Hi Neighbors series

First Presbyterian Church
2344 Center Street

Monday, November 18, 11AM

Temple 3

“Please wear the clothes of the Buddha’s great compassion.”
Kukai (Kobo Daishi)

Buddha: “I am the awakened one.”

Ron (Yoshida) reports Tuesday 6:15 at BAPL

(7th in a series of posts on Ron Yoshida’s pilgrimage)


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We followed follower Ron on his 88 temple henro.

And now he is home to tell all.

88 Temples, 800 miles: A Journey through Japan

“Experience the beauty of the people, scenery, and customs of walking the 88-temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan. Join Ron Yoshida, professor emeritus, Lehigh University as he shares stories and photos of his journey.  Read his blog beforehand at: https://88-photos.com or view some of the photographs of the display at the library.”

Bethlehem Area Public Library, Tuesday, October 1, 2019, 6:15pm

Gadfly is crushed that significant business at the Public Safety Committee meeting and the City Council meeting will prohibit his attendance. Followers should know that both meetings will be televised live and archived for later viewing. (YouTube City of Bethlehem Council channel.) But Gadfly feels the need to be personally present.

Festival UnBound
Ten days of original theatre, dance, music, art and conversation designed to celebrate and imagine our future together!
October 4-13

Day 49: Ron finishes, alone — “what Kukai had in mind for my last day”

(6th in a series of posts on Ron Yoshida’s pilgrimage)


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This final day, I traveled alone though I thought of Ichigo, Ichie – one lifetime, one moment. Perhaps that is what Kukai had in mind for my last day.

On April 21, Ron Yoshida completed his incredible pilgrimage.

I thought about reaching the finish. Indeed, a moment to enjoy as I passed through the sanmon and rang the temple bell – over two hundred years old.

88 Temples.

You might want to know what pilgrims do when they are at a temple and what I do as a secular person who respects other people’s beliefs but is not religious but spiritual. . . . I put my hands together, bow my head and think the following. I am grateful that I am healthy in mind and body to have walked to this temple (83 so far). I am grateful to my grandparents who had the courage to leave Japan for whatever reason and who endured in a new land. I am grateful to my parents who nurtured me even though at times I rebelled. I am grateful to have Sharon as my wife and partner who has shared my life and supported me on this trip. I am grateful for my friends who I know have helped me and will help me again when needed. I am grateful for all of my girl cats and Sherman who purr and give unequivocal love. I am grateful to all of the people who have given me acts of kindness. For those fellow pilgrims and for those performing osettai whom I will never meet again, Ichigo, Ichie (in one lifetime, one meeting), thank you.

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1200km.                        745.6454 miles.                   Over mountains thousands of feet high.

I am sad to leave the road with the excitement of what possibilities lie ahead. Each day brought surprises and experiences that can’t be bought. Walking put the moments into slow-motion. I saw details that would have been missed while on a bike, in a car, bus, train, or plane. I am sad because although I have hiked before, I have never gone this distance and time appreciating nature and our environment. Will I ever hear frogs as I did when I walked around the pond having missed Temple 36 on Day 19? Will I walk along a coastline and feel the wind for as long as I did in Kochi prefecture? Will I hear the sweet spring sounds of the birds as I was walking through the forests of Shikoku?

We look forward to Ron’s reflections on his return.

“Please wear the clothes of the Buddha’s great compassion.”

Kukai (Kobo Daishi)

Buddha: “I am the awakened one.”


Ron’s henro [pilgrimage], day 40: Kiyo sukete [take care], Ron

(5th in a series of posts on Ron Yoshida’s pilgrimage)


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“Kiyo sukete,” Ron, “Kiyo sukete”

Customs we’d like to make customary:

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As breakfast ended with a last taste of another homemade umeboshi, our host placed our bill on the table with a small plate containing two go (five) yen coins, one for each of us. Ayoyama-san explained that the coins were symbolic of wishing that the guest would return one day.




Heat waves far off look real, but close up are nothing.
Heat waves look like running horses or a stream, but are nothing.
Fantasies arise from wrong thinking.
Beautiful men and women fill a fortress;
But it is wrong to think that men and women have essential being.
Sages and wise men are only assumed to be so.
The all-voidness of the five functions of body and mind is the real truth.

Kukai (Kobo Daishi)

Buddha: “I am the awakened one.”



Ron’s henro, day 26: “Kukai is walking with us”

(4th in a series of posts on Ron Yoshida’s pilgrimage)


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“Burnout from chronic stress is everywhere these days,” Washington Post, March 30, 11:00AM.

Ron’s posts are full of wonderful pictures. Of beautiful food. Of warm people.


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“One can feel the spiritual here.”

“Is Kukai with us? I don’t believe in the afterlife or an outer body who ‘watches’ over us. But walking with time to reflect, I often think that Kukai is walking with us. He beckons us to see beauty. He beckons us to appreciate life as a positive experience rather than one to be endured.”

Seeing a solemn castle over the sea
Thronged with horses and people,
Fools immediately think it is reality.
The wise know it is temporary and empty.
Heavenly halls, temples, earthly palaces
That once looked real return to nothing.

                Kukai (Kobo Daishi)

                                                    Buddha: “I am the awakened one.”


“Ganbi,” Ron, “Ganbi”

(3rd in a series of posts on Ron Yoshida’s pilgrimage)


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A sign on the trail counsels pilgrims to Ganbi — “keep trying.” A word we all need to put on a stickie affixed to our bathroom mirror.

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Meotoiwa — “husband and wife together.”  55 years married, I teared up.

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Are you following Ron? Day 13 of his pilgrimage.


18 miles for Ron on Day 5!

(2nd in a series of posts on Ron Yoshida)


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And yet he had strength for this reflection:

“The walk provides plenty of time to reflect and enjoy the environment, specifically gardens. I have come upon wonderful examples from highly manicured to seemingly very natural gardens. Common to all of them is the absence of grass lawns. Rather, gardens are filled with trees and perennials or are planted with seasonal vegetables and fruit trees, I have contended that grass lawns are one of humankind’s worst land uses – wasted person hours cutting grass and the overuse of pesticides and herbicides. Perhaps we can learn from these examples.”

Comments you EAC folks?

Ron’s photos are beautiful!

Follow along?


On the road with Ron


Many Gadfly followers know Ron and Sharon Yoshida.

Ron was my boss for a while. yoshida

He is a great talker.

He talked me into things.

But now Ron is a walker.

As I write, he is a day or two or three into the arduous 88-Temple walk in Shikoku, Japan.

A multi-site pilgrimage of 88 temples associated with the Buddhist monk Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi), who lived c. 800.

A walk that will take about 60 days.

And not always on flat rail trails.

Temple 3Temple 1

 I knew he was walking. For exercise, I thought.

I had no idea what he was really walking for.

What IS he walking for? (See his T Minus 3: 27 February 2019 post)

He will reconnect with his Japanese roots.

I get that. Like many retirees, Gadfly has turned to genealogy, producing small books on each of his parents. And hoping to go back further.

Yoshida 3But there’s something more.

It’s contained in the answer from an Australian finisher of the walk to Ron’s question about what effect the journey had on him: he said that the pilgrimage “restored his faith in mankind.”

I get that too. There must be (for want of a better term) a spiritual dimension to Ron’s journey, his “pilgrimage.”

I envy him the quest for that goal. And hope for its completion.

So I’m going to follow Ron like he’s been following Gadfly.

Hoping something will rub off.


Join us, won’t you?

Buddha: “I am the awakened one.”