We are truly honored to have as friends and kindred spirits a “Circle of Learners” in Japan. It is in many ways a completion of a cycle. The Walking People’s journey began on the East Coast of Asia and continued across Walk By Waters to Turtle Island, thus creating a bridge between the two. Many Japanese people saw their own history as an integral part of this “Ancient Song” and were drawn to learn more. Through the talent and efforts of Jun Hoshikawa, the oral history was translated and published in Japan.

Paula Underwood was delighted that people on both sides of the Pacific were once again reaching hands across this great Ocean. She was committed to enabling further understanding of the Old Ways, and accepted an invitation to visit Japan after the publication of The Walking People. During her stay she had an opportunity to speak about her learning experiences as a “Keeper of the Old Things.” She also conducted a weeklong conference in Hawaii to continue the exchange of ideas. The event was well attended, resulting in lasting bonds of friendship.

Paula passed away unexpectedly in December of 2000. At her memorial service that January, she was honored by her “friends across the Pacific,” many of whom traveled the great distance between to pay their respects. All stood as one People in a great Circle in a redwood forest in California. Some brought their children, some their gift of music . . . but all brought a story of how their lives had been touched by Paula and her gift of Ancient Wisdom.

This wisdom continues to be shared and applied in Japan. In Tokyo, Sonomi Kanamaru facilitates a learning circle of about fifty people. They consider the lessons of this ancient wisdom and compare and contrast them with other ways of learning. They too explore viable ways of applying these approaches to life and learning. Maru shares the activities of her Circle with us via e-mail, and we likewise do the same.

Maru has been very interested in woman’s issues and rights. It was only natural that she would develop a friendship with Jeanne Slobod who was a member of the League of Women Voters for years as well as an active member at the Unitarian Church in Kerrville. Jeanne has been a staunch supporter of women’s rights and has contributed to many of their visionary projects. It was Jeanne’s idea to start a Japanese study group to enhance our understanding of Maru’s culture and language. It was, however, Vicki Marsh who embraced the concept and got the ball rolling. The result has been a wonderful exchange of ideas that has been ongoing since January of 2006.