A Half Day in the Life (cont’d)

Matcha pancakes, anyone?

If you ever need an excuse for overindulgence, just bring along some children for whom the word excess holds no meaning.

So, the day began yesterday with our family gathering for breakfast at a small restaurant we’d discovered a few years ago.  It’s an Hawaiian import, specializing in taking a humble pancake and pushing it over the top.  It’s called Eggs n Things.  I guess the “things” might be for the extravagant plates of pancakes they serve up, for which there are almost no words, although as a rational adult, I can quickly think of a few, obscene being one of them. This would never enter the mind of a child whose dopamine levels are dangerously high, but continue to escalate.

Spreading the whipped cream.

Just for your info, not one for personal sacrifice, I had a stack of strawberry pancakes, the only one of the adults not to order eggs.  I only ate about 2/3 of the whipped cream.

Our goal for the day was to travel to Fushimi Inari shrine, about 20 minutes away by train. Continue reading “A Half Day in the Life (cont’d)”

The Butterflies of Arashiyama

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When we arrived in Arashiyama, the Kyoto landscape was still wearing its early spring colors, which is to say, mostly subdued monochrome gray.

 Arashiyama (嵐山) is a pleasant, touristy district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and fall color seasons.  japan-guide.com

There’s a festive atmosphere here, with food stalls, restaurants, many temples and shrines. I am drawn here repeatedly by the natural beauty of the setting of the area against the river and the mountains .  I particularly enjoy wending my way further into the hills, away from the crowds.  As is usual, in most tourist spots, tourists seem to congregate in certain places and with a little determination you can manage to get away from the crowds.

I was struck by the numbers of young people who enjoy getting dressed up in kimono to spend the day here. This being the twenty-first century, selfie sticks and iPhones were always close by. Overlooking that, they looked like brilliant butterflies against the relatively still somber landscape, which is waiting to explode in a few days once the cherry blossoms start firing, into a magical kingdom. Continue reading “The Butterflies of Arashiyama”

Japan: Through A Child’s Eyes

One way we can recall what it’s like to be a child again, is to travel with children. It’s good if they’re thoughtful and curious.  It’s an added bonus if they have a good “eye” and catch sight of things you might overlook.  A willingness to try new things including unusual looking foreign food is a bonus.  A sense of adventure comes with the territory.

A little back story. Remarkably similar to their grandmother’s penchant for sweet things, both children became initially fascinated with Japan because each time I came back from Japan, I brought back Japanese KitKats for them. The delightful flavors are unseen in the USA.  (See original post.)  The Japanese love of sweet things seems to surpass that of any other country I’ve visited.  Kids pick up on this candy heaven quickly.  It goes without saying they can become easily distracted by what adults think of as junk, but that’s part of being a kid too.

In just a few days, they’ve wandered with us by the small shops, the food stalls and the trinket shops that lead up to the Kiyomizaderu Temple.  I find myself suddenly playing the role of tour leader, expounding on Kyoto history, which they’re not that interested in and do not yet feel they have to feign interest.  I’ve learned to direct my lectures to their parents, who at least appear interested!  It’s a fine line from informing to information overload. Continue reading “Japan: Through A Child’s Eyes”

Just Another Day in Tokyo

I usually judge my “amazement” temperature by the number of photos I’m inspired to take.  A trip to Japan usually means hundreds and hundreds of snapshots.  Thank God for digital.

 The wonders of this remarkable city began appearing soon after we left our hotel.  In looking over my stash of photos from the day, I thought it might be best to do a chronological rerun of our day in Tokyo, beginning at the reasonable hour of 10:30 AM when the National Art Center opened its doors.  No pictures taken of my 4:30 AM awakening.

A Day in the Life of a Tokyo Visitor

10:45 Yayoi  Kusama retrospective, My Eternal Soul, at the National ArtCenter.  Just a short walk from our hotel to arrive at this display of fabulousness in this large architectural gallery displaying the investment in the arts that Japan understands as essential!  Weather: sunny but windy.  Spirits:  high.

The approach to the building features trees whose trunks are wrapped for the show, setting the mood perfectly. Continue reading “Just Another Day in Tokyo”

Rebounding!

If you’ve seen me recently you might have noticed a new twinkle in my eye and a new springy rebound in my step.  It would have been most noticeable if you had also seen me a few weeks ago when I was felled by a nasty respiratory infection and spent practically two weeks vegetating in bed,   Progress was measured in small victories.  I actually was happy to congratulate myself if I could take a shower without getting out of breath.   My self-image was hit hard, but it’s now returned to positive territory. The body wants to heal itself, I’ve read.  The body wants to heal itself I want to believe.  The body, with the help of drugs, did indeed heal and the miracle of it all is that the years, in the last few days, are just peeling off of me.  It’s quite a sight to behold.

What’s transformed me into a leprechaun, or maybe I should say ninja,  other than a course of drugs,  is the anticipation of my upcoming journey next week when I return to Japan for a month’s stay. In my mind’s eye, I can see the buds of the cherry blossom trees swelling in anticipation of our mutual reacquaintance. Continue reading “Rebounding!”