Thanks for your interest in reading about my 25 year Jewish-Taoist marriage here in Tokyo. I thought since we’re still at the beginning of my story, you might wonder–as I did–precisely what is a Taoist? What do they believe in? And aren’t Taoists supposed to meditate on Chinese mountaintops rather than inner city rooftops of Tokyo?
In sum, this is what I found out: that Japanese Taoists–the very few that seem to form their own constellation at the Akahigedo Clinic in Tokyo–believe in the superiority of Chinese masters for their learning. It’s not that they don’t graduate from Japanese acupuncture schools, but the overall outlook is that school teaches “brain knowledge.” Since TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is as much an art as a science, the view at Akahigedo is that intuition must be simultaneously cultivated, and that this intuition is not something woo-woo, but earthed in study and being in nature itself.
Excerpt from The Wagamama Bride, a memoir in progress:
Wakabayashi Sensei tugs on his wisp of a beard as he searches for the words in English to explain complex Taoist ideas very simply, “You know the Tao Tse Ching? Very famous book. In Asia, famous as the Bible.”
“Well, Lao Tsu, who wrote the Tao Tse Ching, taught that everything in life is made from a direct observation of nature and that within the whole there are complementary opposites.”
“That’s admirable,” I say. “But aren’t all human beings programmed to learn from nature?”
Wakabayashi strokes his beard. “Yes! Of course. But in modern society we are told to rely on brain knowledge. You ask me a question about the Tao and you want an explanation, is that right?”
“Okay, what if you could get an answer on any topic you desire, through intuition?”
“I’d say great. It would save me a lot of expense buying books.”
Was Akihiko Wakabayashi’s way of thinking “normal” among acupuncturists in Japan?
Most acupuncture clinics in Tokyo don’t bother with discussing ancient Chinese medical philosophy with their patients, but it was and remains the approach of Akahigedo to invite students to study chi gong along with the clinic doctors and therapists, especially when visiting Chinese Taoist masters came to visit or reside in Tokyo.