Guiding Foreign Visitors Is Not Ichigo-Ichie but Long Relationship

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Date & Time: Saturday, March 24, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Spots: Kotokuin Temple (Great Buddha), Hasedera Temple, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu,
Komachi–dori Street
Visitors: 7 Mexicans (2 Men and 5 Women)
Attendant: 1 KSGG member
Languages: English and Spanish

I offered a guiding service to a Mexican, Raul, two years ago. I’d thank him very much for such favor that he recommended KSGG (Kanagawa SGG Club) to all of his friends who ever had an interest in visiting Japan. I used to have an idea that guiding foreign visitors is “Ichigo-Ichie”*1 but I met him again this spring. It was really a good surprise. Although Raul was in a heavy schedule this time, he sent me a series of requests, one after another such as: “I want to see Mt. Fuji from Enoden train,” “I want to see the tombs of Daisetsu Suzuki and Kitaro Nishida.” etc.
On the day to visit the Kamakura tour, he and his group members showed up late by an hour and a half in spite of the very busy tour itinerary planned per his request. As it was the first day, the group members other than Raul got excited very much with lots of interests in the things around. They tried to walk fast but the crowd of tourists enjoying cherry blossoms made it difficult for them to move fast. Further, while walking, they were busy in taking photos together with kimono-clad senior high school students on their school trip and talking about the difference between Shintoism and Buddhism. They were all delighted and went on a spree. After a while, we moved to a restaurant renovated from an old traditional private house and enjoyed a wonderful and delicious Japanese-style meal at the table on tatami (Japanese traditional straw mat) floor. It was the restaurant I had had a reservation at Raul’s request beforehand. During the lunch, I handed over Washi-Ningyo (dolls hand-made out of Japanese paper by KSGG members) to Raul and the other members of the group. They very much appreciated the beautiful dolls. I thanked KSGG for giving me a chance to develop a good relationship with Raul.

*1:The phrase “Ichigo-Ichie” originates from the tea ceremony and means “One time, one meeting”, emphasizing the value of the moment of meeting that may happen once in life.