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I was pleased and honored to be invited to visit Japan as a member of the SWF adult delegation.

Japan is a modern industrial and commercial success. We experienced and saw the private lives of the Japanese middle classes. Lives that reflect ancient traditions, ancient values, and ancient religions.

I was very impressed with their genuine sincere hospitality, and by their deep commitments to community and society. For example, we saw a community deeply invested in the ceramic industry preparing for a community ceramic show and sale. And we saw an island preserved as it was for centuries as a European trading outpost in Japan.

I saw no graffiti. I saw no evidence of crime. I did see strong family ties and deep attachment to religious tradition and history. There are countless shrines and temples in Japan attesting to their Shinto and Buddhist traditions. The Japanese take care in preserving these religious sites, as well as many castles and palaces from bygone centuries.

Personally, I will never forget my experience at the atomic bomb memorial park and museum in Nagasaki. I was touched and affected by what I saw there. The memorial is very tasteful and very educational. I applaud the Japanese for their handling of this sensitive and emotional matter.

I speak for all of the adult volunteers when I thank the City of Sebastopol for making our experiences possible. And we do thank the leaders of Sebastopol World Friends for their careful and attentive planning for our trip. Meg Mizutani provided needed social and language interpretive skills, Abigail Evans spoke very well, with authority and dignity on behalf of our group to the community on two occasions. And Val Churma worked tirelessly in organizing and coordinating the group before our trip. Patty and Steve Levenberg were in the background handling the business of the trip.

Thank you Sebastopol. Well done.