Ted asked in my last post what my impressions of Japan are, so this is answered here.
I must say that I love Japan and I love going to Japan. Obviously I am biased because at the end of the journey there is Jack, Miki and Allan, but even so, I would still love the place, although I don't think I would like to live there.
I find Tokyo an exciting place to visit especially going into the city alone, trying to work out the involved and convoluted underground and train system, seeing the mix of traditional buildings and ultra modern buildings, and most of all, meeting Japanese people.
Allan pretending to be a commuter!
Traditional buildings in Asaska, Tokyo.
The Ginza skyline from the Emporer's Imperial Palace.
The view of the Imperial Moat with my back to the Ginza skyline.
Yes, even bloody Tesco has wormed it's way into Tokyo life.
I did rather like this sign though!
Jack lives in Hoya, which is about 25 minutes by train from one of the major Tokyo stations. Although quite densly populated, it also has a rural aspect. There are many allotments scattered around, full of delicous vegetables: diakon, brocolli, sticky potatoes and these cabbages:
Jack and I took this photo on one of our cycles rides. There seemed to be something terribly 'Zen' about the neat symetrical rows of these perfect vegetables! This is the view from Jack and Miki's flat:
The Japanese are very honest people and it simply would not occur to anyone to pop into the allotment and nick a cabbage or two. You can leave precious bonsai trees growing in pots outside the front of the house in the certain knowledge that they will still be there in the morning. Wish it was a bit more like that here.
I get the impression from Jack, although I could be very wrong here, that as far as faith goes, the Japanese are quite laid back. They tend towards Shinto for births and marriages and Buddism for deaths.
There were many statues of Buddhas around, and in one temple in Kyoto there were over a thousand of them!
There were also lots of shrines. This particular one was for lighting candles but many others were for incense. You would pay 100 yen and get a large bundle of incense, then light it and stick it in the sand. When it is smoking nicely, you wave your arms around madly, directing the smoke over you. I joined in very happily with both the candle lighting and the incense wafting. I loved it.
We spent a very enjoyable day in Osaka. We met up with one of Miki and Jack's friends, Yoshtsune and he showed us round the fleshpots of the city!
The Japanese are very into slot machine and arcade games. Their pachinko machines can become addictive.
Jack and Allan playing pachinko!
Miki beating hell out of some drums!
Our host, Yoshetsune with Allan.
After Osaka we spent two days in Kyoto, but that deserves a post of it's own.