Enlightened in Japan
An immensely rewarding adventure to the nation of Japan provided many gifts including time with Bren, photo ops everywhere ya look and the opportunity to revisit an amazing culture, and capture a small slice of the people who made this an incredible experience.
So reset the old western mentality to a society on the move. Mass transits move millions of people every day, everywhere. Thus my first interaction with society upon meeting with Bren and Hils, a 3 hr train trip to Yokosuka. The ticket agent could tell we were not sure and got us squared away on the Narita Express. Nice ride to Yokohama then to the JR line and the masses. Rush fest, stand up and hang on, the temp goes up 20 in sardine mode. Anyway learned names like Horinuchi, Maborikaigon, Uraga, chuo as we rode the rails to Brendan's house.
Lesson from today: close and touching is the norm on the train, with a smile.
The walk from the station to the house set the stage for city streets, narrow crowded, especially after train drop. Well lit and well traveled. So the typical Japanese house awaited us. The sliding rice paper walls, the tatami mats, cold water closets, heated toilets seats with other options and low door ways. Room heaters/ac are the norm as is removing shoes. Insulation, not so much but very functional. Welcome to economy of space, an ever present state of mind and evident where ever you look, its part of the aura.
A rental car to Mt Fuji provided a glimpse of the highway system. First reality, cars older than 10 yrs are almost impossible to license. Thus very low age fleet. Fuel $5-6 per gal. Everyone pays a yearly fee based on engine size then all the outer roads are toll roads. Our 120 mile round trip to Fuji would have costs well over $150.00 in tolls. The car came with vouchers thanks god! Now what I haven't mentioned that to own a car you have to own a parking place that is inspected and approved for your car. So not easy but cars everywhere. The roads are efficient, in great condition and crowded. So Fuji was socked in but the drive up during the day and back at night was revealing as to the population centers, around every corner lol! Fortunately Brendan's house comes with parking spot til we can return the car.
Lesson from trip: they love their cars and trucks but pay dearly for them.
The next matriculation was train spotting. Tried to learn the ways and got a little there but Bren and Hils had it down. So the intro trip was to Tokyo for shopping. This entailed two JR lines and another to Tokyo. Again going through stages of the crush but a great view of the hoods and high rises. 10 and twelve story apartment buildings with laundry on every balcony. Economy of space. Tokyo-Yokohama 35+ million souls. As said close on the trains but so polite and respectfully to everyone. Another part of the aura.
Walking from the station to the shopping was again everywhere. We knew not where our destination was but headed that way fearlessly. After half mile and a few stores we asked two lads on the street if they spoke English and one answered, yes. They were from China and camera shopping also using Google Maps to lead them to Yodobashi's. We followed and chatted right to the camera department and took care of some business. The associate no English the cashier enough English. So the international flavor shows its colors on the streets of Tokyo.
Back to meet Hils in Shibuya, at the busiest ped crossing on the marble according to some. Today was a moderate volume day. People crossing every which way. Mashed thru the crowd for a couple of shots and since our shopping was complete we headed for Yokohama and some dinner. The Rio Grand Grill was pretty upscale with a great buffet concept. All you can eat for 2 hours. There is so much food, carved fresh at you table, the salad bar, the deserts and beverages. The services industry is here to serve and please its customers and that they do in spades. Its strange how tips are not expected as doing your job and giving 100% is included in the price of the meal or cab ride.
Lesson today: the more people the more respect given and received.
A trip to Kamakura puts you deep in the spiritual diocese of many beliefs and denominations. From Shinto to Buddist the areas many shrines and temples offer pilgramages for thousands. captured the gamut from washing to clapping and bell ringing and singing. Most homages accorded to deceased family members. Enough to see here to require a second visit. This time laying eyes on the great Buddha Diahatsu and the Temple at Hasedera.
Returning to the Buddha triggered 3 events from the aura. First a group of school children interviewed us. Polite and respectful they were. Children wear uniforms to all schools, go 6 days a week and event participation is required. And since the families often share very compact quarters the behavior ownership from the parents is working well. Educated and tech heavy users the youth are a very important part of the aura. Next we lay witness of a group of Korean Buddist priests worshiping at the statue. Again surrounded by the spiritual aura exhibited by all comers to the many places to pray in this area. Third was a chance meeting with a local over a croakie on Bren's sunglasses. This evolved into a lengthy conversation.
Lessons from today: Spirituality is another pillar in the aura. The people are genuine, polite and sincere.
More train spotting this time on the Shinkansen, the bullet trains. Reserved seats only each train of 16 cars can move 1300 souls upto 180 mph on a 4 minute interval. More room than an aircraft, no seat belt signs, beverage carts available and average speed too fast to capture images without rolling shutter. Destinations Kyoto and Osaka. The conductor upon stamping each ticket and leaving the car, turns and bows to the passengers.
Arriving in a new city its check-in then off to see the wizard. The Tower, the Torii Gates, the Handicraft Market after the Bamboo Forest, then the castle day and night with shopping and dinning required. Saw whale shark and sting ray and what was once the largest ferris wheel. And yet again all come with sardine mode enabled. Just the train trip was worth the $120 it cost us each way.
Lessons from trip: transportation kicks ass and delivers. The people again are the collective aura no matter how large or small the crowds.
Back in the House of Hoy it was all coming together. Westerners would not be able to survive here without much adaptive therapy. Millions of folks live in very close proximity and yet the crime rate is one of the lowest on the globe. They get along and get on with life, leisure and their pursuit of happiness with a smile on their face. Feeling very fortunate to have witnessed and captured a small bit of the aura of Japan.
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