16th Apr 2012
So that's in then! We went back to Japan and it was still wonderful. It is becoming more westernised but the Japan of memory is still there and definitely not western. Everyone was unfailingly polite and kind. We left bags and camaras unattended and nothing was at risk. We ate the freshest, cleanest and tastiest foods we have eaten in years and enjoyed the amazing hospitality, from a tiny tea room in Miyajima, where we made new friends, to a luxury spa hotel where were welcomed back by name!
Their heritage is impressive and their pride in Japaneseness evident everywhere. Yes, there is a lot of concrete and overhead wiring but it is difficult to run cables underground in a country subject to daily earth tremors (sadly, or perhaps fortunately, we didn't experience one this time!). The integrated transport system is impressive and NEVER let us down. The scenery is outstanding and there was a lot more green (or cherry blossom pink) than we expected. The calm and unhurried way of life is infectious and will hopefully last longer than a day after return.
Yes we did see Fuji (twice as she showed herself on the return train journey too) and yes, at the time of writing (3hours out of Newcastle), we are still speaking to each other! Thanks Kit for your company. I couldn't have made this trip without you.
A truly amazing experience. We've wanted to return to Japan since we were there nearly 29 years ago and she didn't let us down. Everything we did worked well and, as you can see if you've read the blog, we experienced a huge range of things, each one unique.
I know that Japan is reknowned for its cherry blossom but I had no idea of the extent of its presence. We certainly hit lucky with the timing. Anne has become a poet and has written some excellent Haikus (Is that the plural of Haiku?) whch she has promised to write down properly. I wrote two, so maybe I need more time to develop my literary talents. I'll happily go back...
We have much to learn from the Japanese way of life and their attitude to nature. Last time when I came back, Phil said I was much more calm, so I hope Terry can say the same thing this time. Every one made us feel really welcome in their country and their courtesy is second to none, even when I was taken to a little room at immigration because their was no record of my being in the country, they assumed the fault was theirs and dealt with the situation. Wonder what my treatment would have been like if I'd been exiting the U.S.A. and the same thing happened?
This trip would not have worked so well without Anne's organisation before we left. Everything was perfect for the occasion and situation. As one of our new friends, Setsuko, on Miyajima said, "Right time. Right place. Right persons". Thank you, Anne, for making this trip so special and for helping me to realise an ambiton of a lifetime.