Saturday, 9 December 2017

Kimono Gifts

In the picture you can see me giving Reiki to a Japanese lady who is the friend of my host for a few days in Osaka, during my recent visit.  The haori (Japanese jacket) you can see me wearing I found at an outlet store close to the hotel where I stayed the first night.  There were other jackets in the store, but they were cut down kimono with rough edges and obvious stitching - the shop was called Raw Edge which may explain that!  However I discovered this particular one on the rack of half price jackets and recognized it as an original haori, probably quite old.  I bought it with much delight.

I have bought other haori and know that they should have two little ties, but they were missing on this one.  I have also never known how to tie them properly.  If you just do an ordinary knot you end up with one end sticking up and the other down, which didn't seem right!

I showed it to my host and she mentioned it to her friend when she called in the next day.  I was told that this lady was a 'kimono expert' - by which I understood she helped people with how to wear kimono properly.  I put the haori on to show her and she confirmed that it is made of silk.  I pointed out that it did not have the little ties.  She immediately said (through my host, as she didn't speak much English) that she would bring me some next morning.

I was delighted therefore to see her again the next day and she brought the two little ties in a colour that perfectly matched the haori.  I asked her to show me how to tie them, which she was happy to do.  We made a little video, so that I could remember after I got home.  Later I was able to share the video with another of my friends who bought a haori and wanted to know how to tie them correctly.

I wasn't sure if I was to pay for them or if they were a gift, so asked my host.  I was assured they were indeed a gift and what's more she had another gift for me: a decoration worn with kimono, made by a kimono master!  This is a little glass bead on a thick thread, designed to be hung from the obi (belt).

I was really thrilled with this whole exchange as I had learned how to tie the haori ties and received a wonderful little kimono gift.  In thanks I offered an experience of Reiki treatment (which she had not encountered before) and my host took the picture.

Opening Gifts

Do you enjoy opening presents at Christmas?  But do you sometimes feel awkward opening a gift with the giver?  Maybe you won't like the contents, but still have to say you do?  In Japanese culture they have a solution for this...

In preparation for the trip to Japan we were asked to bring some small gifts with a connection to where we live.  I also took presents for my host for the few days before the tour.  With other gifts I took on behalf of someone who had been on the tour with Phyllis previously, my suitcase was quite full of things to give away!  It also contained  sellotape and wrapping paper because I learned before I left that the wrapping is almost as important as the gift in Japan. But would the Japanese people appreciate what I had chosen? 

Reading a guide book on the flight, I learned that it is a Japanese custom that gifts are not opened in front of the giver.  I love to see people's reaction when they open a gift I have chosen for them, but of course this does create potential embarrassment if someone doesn't like what I've given them.

With the Japanese tradition the recipient can open the gift in private, with no awkwardness if the gift has no meaning for them.  This doesn't mean a carefully chosen gift isn't appreciated: I found that while I was thanked when the gift was given, there were also thanks once it had been opened.  This felt kinder than someone saying 'Oh it's lovely' if it wasn't what the person wanted!

The class form and initiations are like the carefully prepared gift wrap when I teach Reiki.  I have no expectation that the receiver will really know what the is gift until later.  It's only after the class, when the student goes away and starts practising, that they begin to unpack the mysterious contents and experience the wonder that Reiki offers.  I remember thinking what a wonderful I had given myself when I first felt Reiki coming from my own hands into my body after the 1st degree class.  One of my students, who has been practicing for many years, describes Reiki as "the gift that goes on giving".  I would agree: the more Reiki I have given over the years (including self treatment), the more benefit I have received.

I'm grateful to my Reiki master for this amazing gift she gave me when she initiated me.  I'm also grateful that she encouraged me to discover for myself the true gift through practice.  Like the game of pass the parcel, with a small gift in each later, I have unwrapped layer after layer, releasing  discovering the gifts of grace, joy and good health to name but a few.   Sometimes a layer is challenging to open, but there is always a happy reward.

My pilgrimage to Japan was one such gift  and I received many physical presents and spiritual insights to bring home.  Thank you to everyone who helped me to receive it.

Wishing you a happy time of opening your gifts over Christmas and in the New Year.