Otherwise known as Victoria's birthday party.
We drove all the way to Takachiho to help her celebrate. It was a major birthday, so it was worth the trip, and the kids LOVE going to Takachiho, so they were happy too. I took only Amy and Lena, and left Erica with her Daddy. Victoria's place is big and rangy and chasing a toddler there means literally chasing - every five minutes or so you think, 'Where is she' and off you go on a kid search. I don't know how Victoria managed to raise toddlers without going mad (perhaps she didn't, or perhaps she locked them inside more often). Anyway, to enable myself to sit on my fat bum for longer than three minutes at a time, I didn't bring her.
Her birthday coincided with the Buddha's. She really is a special lady ;-)
So at the temple they had a big ceremony to celebrate, with children from the congregation focused on.
This is Renni, her second son, reading. This is old-fashioned pre-electric traditional Japanese television. The story is written on the back of the following card, so you can flip the card to the front of the pack and read the story as you go. He read really well, much better than the older girl who followed, who seemed to be trying to read it as fast as humanly possible, forgetting there were some people actually listening and trying to make sense of the story, unlike the 'ondoku' (reading out loud) the kids do for homework everyday, which no-one listens to!
Then Junsho gave a talk. He explained the symbolism of the Buddha statue. I hadn't realized how much had sunk in until Amy sculpted her own Buddha a few weeks later out of play-do.
Next we poured a libation on the Buddha's head. This festival is in spring, so of course there were beautiful flowers everywhere, Victoria's work. On a little dais under a canopy, surrounded by flowers, was a statue of the Buddha sitting in a little pool of something. Each person spooned some over his head.
After that, the kids went on a Treat Hunt - I kind of Easter-egg hunt, with no Easter, no eggs, and no rabbit. But with hidden cookies and kids, it was tremendous fun.
Finally we were treated to lunch - curry! Everyone's favorite.
Later on we had the party for Victoria. A few of her best local friends, plus me and Kristen, a barbecue, a silly hat, some cake and loads of champange!