October 30, 2008

My Love of Japan

In 2005, my husband had one of his usual business trips. This one took him to Japan. I knew this was one opportunity that I could not pass up. When would I get this chance ever again. My daughters were ages one and three and I didn't like the thought of the long flight to Japan. But, it was actually a piece of cake.

We started our trip in a little town called Kofu, and then spent a few days in Tokyo. I was happy to spend some time in a "real" town in Japan, small full of all of the culture more so then a big touristy city.

The above statue is of one of the last samurai who had lived in this town. In our hotel, were some hot springs. It was fascinating to think that this man used to sit in these same springs hundreds of years before.

Oddly, and unfortunately for me, I didn't actually go into the springs until our last night there. The thought of my tall self, naked, with a tattoo of an elephant on my rear end, and all of these tiny Japanese women seeing it, made me very nervous. I know the Japanese do not think too highly of tattoos, and those with tattoos were not aloud in the swimming pool. But, I gave it a go.

No one noticed me. Everyone showered together, sitting on little stools facing a mirrored wall. There was a certain respect and privacy there. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, sitting in those springs. The water was so hot, but not the same as the water heated by man. It was so spiritual. I know that the day my husband and I return, I will be going in those springs every night.

While my husband worked, the girls and I would wander about the streets of tiny Kofu. The only part that became difficult for me as the days went by, was not being able to read their characters or hear English on T.V. It made me a little home sick in all honesty.

This is a little temple that we went past. It was so beautiful there, nestled in the trees by the side of the small city street.

I loved the way the spider web illuminated with the light of the sun. I took so many pictures on this trip, both color and black and white, and it was hard to choose which ones to post. Naturally, I will be sharing more of Tokyo at a later date.

I loved seeing the children after school let out. They seemed so responsible walking home from school in the late afternoon. These kids were so sweet and loved hearing us speak in what little Japanese we could. The people there really appreciated our attempts to speak and the way we respected their culture. It was just so wonderful.

And of course, like every small city in America, there was a McDonalds. This one was so much better though, because they had shrimp sandwiches and Hello Kitty toys in their Happy Meals.

This was a little rock garden at our hotel. They also had a little chapel for weddings. It is very popular to go to these hotels for a wedding. There would be families in traditional kimonos in the lobby and it just fascinated the girls. The hotel was huge and would host several events. For us, it was just another way to become absorbed in the culture.

This was my typical breakfast. The only American type item they had was eggs, but most of the choices were different small, dried fish, lots of rice and this delicious seaweed that I loved. I wish I could get some of it here in the states. Luckily, there is an Asian store close by that sells "real" rice, and my husband was able to get us a "real" steam cooker from one of his many trips to Asia. We LOVE steamed, sticky rice. Of course, I am a big sushi fan as well, and nothing compares to real Japanese sushi.

I know, I know... you are wondering why on earth I have a picture of a toilet. Now, in some locations, they had toilets that were basically just a hole in the floor, but in newer areas and in our hotels, we had these state of the art toilets. It really cracked me up, but at the same time I would love to have one in my home. The seats were heated, they had different bidet type features, automatic flushing (which scared the crap out of my oldest, not literally) light flush, heavy flush, and the list just went on and on. You can learn some crazy stuff when you visit another country.
I always remember this trip this time of year, because we went in October. The leaves there were at their peak. We spent Halloween in Japan, and we were in Tokyo for my birthday. It was one of my best birthdays ever and I can't wait until the day I can return to this magical place.
Hope you enjoyed a small part of my trip!

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Wow, I wouldn't be allowed in the pool either...lol.
This is a nice trip through your eyes. Although, I don't think I could have done the spring thing.... and I MAY have been afraid of that toliet.
Fun story!