Gypsy's Travels

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Japanese Journey - Taking a Walk

The "Cloth and Clay" tour began with a meeting the night everyone had arrived. It was a small group of 16, by design, and it turned out to be a very tolerant and congenial group of women plus one husband. Most were from different states, one from Canada, and one from France. Several were repeat travellers with Susan, although this was the first time this particular trip had been offered and everyone was very careful to be on time....all the time! It was a most impressive effort. Em was the youngest of the group but blended in well. She did not complain about the food or the walking or anything. I was pleased to see how nicely everyone interacted with her.

Most of the participants were retired school teachers and they wanted to make sure Em was taking note of all the important points.
Unfortunately, not all Susan's previous tours had been so delightful for her. Some included wannabes taking notes for their own tour offerings. Legally, they were within their rights - "We paid for this tour"; ethically, it was in poor taste; realistically, there is no way the larger companies can offer what Susan offers. She has the background to teach the reasoning behind the cultural specifics, the love of the people and shared arts, and the connections that offered us views behind the bamboo curtain. We actually met two Japanese "Living Treasures!" All this is to tell you that I won't be giving a detailed account of the places we visited, names of people that we met who do not ordinarily appear in public, or showing photos of some wonderful treasures that have not yet been released to the public. I WILL share what I can because it was fascinating......
Just walking through the streets in Japan is a real treat. This was my fourth trip over several decades of my life, so for me it was seeing the changes and embracing the memories. I also enjoyed seeing everything through Em's eyes as a first time visitor, who was also on her first journey to a place where she was definitely a minority -
"I don't understand anything they are saying."
"I can't read the signs."
"Everything is different!"
Definitely a touch of culture shock.
The first day, we travel by subway across the city and walk to our destination. It is part of the plan to make us individually mobile on public transportation and thus able to get around independently. I make sure Em is up front getting directions.
I LOVE to walk! It is the best way to see the city but I am often distracted by side views and trying to capture everything with my camera. I walk at the back of the group so I don't run into anyone or block someones view or progress. I become accustomed to hurrying to catch up but everything in Japan is picturesque.....

A street vendor is busy just a block away from our upscale hotel. These vendors are more common in the suburbs, but not many are this close. We are only a couple of blocks away from the Imperial Palace and Gardens.

There are so many people in such a small space that the Japanese make everything count. Beauty is incorporated into every nook and cranny. This cement wall is ribbed to give it visual texture and small plates are added for decoration.

Em captured this particularly cute one with an owl design.

Just a contained filled with water adds visual interest, although in Texas it would be full of mosquito larva.

Even a very small area is an opportunity for peace, quiet, and beauty.

Posted by PicasaA new use for olde doors
These characters guarding the street corner are some sort of popular trend.
Did I mention that Em really likes her Fedora and wears it all the time?

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