It’s Almost Like Being in Love

When I’m in Japan, people seem nicer, the landscape more beautiful, the mundane more interesting. The giggling groups of young women enjoying each other’s company help me to appreciate how fleeting youth is.  The laughs I share with new friends are more frequent. The reds are redder, the golds more golden.IMG_2794

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Respect for and tolerance of others are a commonly agreed upon bond that is shared by almost everyone. Kindness prevails. People seem to smile more often than at home. I awaken earlier.  Singing too!  Rereading this, it sounds like I’ve fallen in love! Continue reading “It’s Almost Like Being in Love”

Traveling with Robert

There’s always something wonderful waiting at the end of the drive when you’re lucky enough to join Robert Yellin on a visit to a few potters.

buddies!

I met Robert many years ago when he helped to guide tour groups to ceramic areas. We’ve remained friends, and each time we visit Kyoto,I look forward to meeting up with Robert. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call him one of the country’s leading authorities on contemporary Japanese ceramics. He runs a wonderful gallery in Kyoto close to the Philosophers Walk.  I believe anyone serious about contemporary Japanese ceramics should/must visit. It’s always a showcase for both established and emerging potters. Robert easily shares his passion and seemingly limitless knowledge of ceramics with his visitors.

This visit, he drove us to the ancient pottery area of Tamba. The potters he visits are overjoyed to see him and that is part of the fun. I enjoy seeing the work of each potter in her/his own gallery, as they chose to display it. There are always an abundance of riches to savor, admire  (and occasionally purchase!) Continue reading “Traveling with Robert”

Tourists Be Gone! Children Can Stay.

After almost four weeks here, we finally tore ourselves away from the allure of Kyoto  Several Kyoto friends seemed surprised that we had never been to Hiroshima and the close by ancient and celebrated shrine on the island of Miyajima. It was a relatively simple overnight trip that easily met our expectations,  once the crowds of other tourists had departed.

Most  experiences in Japan translate easily to other cultures.But every now and then, we come across something here that we just don’t “get.” We approach it eagerly and depart from it just a little bit baffled, telling each other, “you must have to grow up Japanese.”

When we set out to see one of the three all time great scenic sites in Japan, I was slightly apprehensive because years ago at another much-lauded scenic site, we left thinking maybe we hadn’t really been in the right place because we remained unmoved. That was Amanohashidate.

miyajima Torii gate at high tide

This time we headed for the nearby island of Miyajima, to see the ultra scenic site of the floating (at high tide) Torii gate. We’d done our homework and stayed overnight so we could see the shrine without the throngs of day visitors who finally depart the island when the last ferry leaves.
We initially saw the Torii as our ferry approached the island.Soon after landing and eager to see the icon at closer range, we walked over to check it out. We were not alone, but just two of many hundreds of like-minded tourists. We quickly determined to return when we had it more to our selfish selves. Continue reading “Tourists Be Gone! Children Can Stay.”

I am SO Sorry.

(Note to readers:  The reality I witnessed when visiting Hiroshima today was harsh.  My reflections are harsh as well. It is not my intention to offend, rather to awaken.)

There’s no way to put a soft gel on the results of dropping a nuclear bomb on a crowded civilian population. My mind instantly rejected any idea of photographing any part of the A-bomb park in an effort to share our visit to Hiroshima today. I was on sacred ground.

This is my first post without any photos I’ve taken.  For me, they were not an option. Continue reading “I am SO Sorry.”

I’m Sorry, What’s Your Name??

You think you have trouble remembering names? Just try remembering the names of a few dozen of the 1600 temples that are here in Kyoto!

After dozens of years of visits, I’m still often in a state of confusion when it comes to identifying which temples I’ve visited. It frequently happens that I don’t think I’ve been to a specific temple, only to arrive and become aware that it’s VERY familiar. The images stick, but the names vanish. Don’t look at me to temple name drop.

Anyone who calls Kyoto “home” is able to rattle off their names; Tofukji, Myoshonji, Kyomisaderu,Nanzenji, Sanjusangendo, Ryoanji, Honen-in, Daituokuji,Kinkakuji,Ginkakuji. These are a few of the very famous ones. But what was the name of temple that had the killer view of the pond garden from indoors and where was it we had that amazing dinner? Where did we go for the special healing ceremony last spring? Which temple had that drop dead autumn illumination that made me feel as if I’d dropped through the rabbit hole?

The walkways lead onwards, never immediately revealing what they contain.

Continue reading “I’m Sorry, What’s Your Name??”