Journal
arrival
school
Kamakura
Tokyo
Mashiko
Kyoto
Nikko

daily life
Hakone
Thailand
Laos
Vietnam
Cambodia
apartment
Honshu
Mt Fuji
Takayama
year 2
Australia
New Zealand
New Zealand2

pilgrimage
Kyushu
sakura
summer
Korea
noodles
city
year end
monkeys
earthquake
China
Tibet
sayonara

 

Photos
Yokohama
Nara
Himeji
Kyoto
Nikko
Tokyo
open air

 

Japan Journal
Prague Journal
Guatemala Journal
Wanderings
Altered Landscapes
Thru the Window

Home


 

 honshu

hachigatsu 10 (aug)
The last week of July, my favorite traveling partner arrived. My son, Adam, had minored in Japanese in college - language, history and culture - so he was knowledgeable, curious and eager to explore Japan for two weeks. As the only person who has actually come and witnessed my life in each of the three countries I have lived in the past six years, it amused me to show him my Japanese apartment. Although I have paid about the same amount for rent in each country, my living space has gotten smaller and smaller. This one was like a tiny hotel room with our sleeping mats unfurled. He seemed at ease with life on the floor as we planned our route to several cities in central Honshu, the main island.

The first five days we trained into Tokyo each day. We hit a few sights I hadn't seen before, mostly driven by his interests. We roamed the hidden streets in the residential side of the Harajuku neighborhood to find the Japanese Sword Museum. Although we came just past closing time, the guide was happy to show us around, dramatically miming the use of different types of swords. Ghibli Studios Museum at Kichijoji whimsically celebrated the anime (animation) film creations of Hayao Miyazaki. We walked the groomed paths of the Edo-Tokyo open air museum, poking around in the historic houses and artifacts, observers from another age.

The 150 year festival in Yokohama commemorated its opening as a port. We sampled the festivities, and were awed by an enormous robotic spider manned by a team of operators, each leg operating independently, that sprayed water on the crowd of spectators. After a delicious dinner in colorful Chinatown, we walked along the waterfront to find a viewing spot to see hanabi, the fireworks, getting caught up in the crushing crowd. Hanabi means fire flower, and its meaning came to life in the artistically composed paintings in the night sky, so carefully choreographed compared to our random explosions.

We journeyed west, faster than a speeding bullet, on the Shinkansen or bullet train. The highlight of two days in Kyoto, for me, was a stroll through literally hundreds of red torii, or gates, like tunnels of flame, at the Inari shrine, stone foxes standing guard.

When we reached the original capital city of Nara, the humid heat became intolerable as we walked just 15 minutes with our packs to a lovely ryokan, or Japanese style inn. When the sun mercifully dropped, creating long shadows, friendly deer greeted us in Nara park, milling about looking for occasional handouts from an admiring crowd, while we crossed the park to see the huge Buddha at Todai-ji temple. That night at a recommended local watering hole, a Japanese man bought us sake, a few too many drinks after having downed some small bottles of our own, and traded stories. A morning train ride brought us further west to the towering white Himeji castle, whose elegance has survived the centuries since 1580.

We headed for cooler climes, an enjoyable return trip to Nikko, this time in spring and less crowded - the colors a lush green and the forest and temples floating in fog and mist. Our last night in Fuchu, we reveled with friends at the little jazz club.

15/34

Photography | About me | Home | RRontheroad@hotmail.com