Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Gallery: Japan

This week's gallery asked for a post based on a single word of our choice.

The Gallery is a weekly photo prompt, do go over and check out all the other wonderful entries.

I picked the word "Japan", since I was looking for an excuse to share photos from my recent trip. Thanks Tara for such a flexible idea.

Mt Fuji from my hotel in Yokohama

I had always thought I would travel more. In my youth I did the standard interailing round Europe. I went a little further afield to visit a friend who worked in Cairo, and of course I ended up living and working here in San Francisco, but I had not really intended to stop here. San Francisco was supposed to be the launch of a life lived in stages in every country of the world. Real life got in the way, so here is where I have remained for fifteen years.

Last week though my company sent me to Japan for a few days. I had forgotten how much I love to travel. I soaked it up. The challenge and the satisfaction of negotiating the Tokyo metro system all alone. The gamble of ordering a completely random item for lunch based upon a picture in a menu written entirely in Japanese. It was exhilarating. I love new places because they remind me of how similar we all are in the world. Tokyo is like London and New York but yet at the same time so different and so unique. Surrounded by symbols that were incomprehensible to me, but yet familiar and meaningful to everyone around me was a thought provoking experience. Written language is so powerful, without it I felt disconnected from the city in a way I didn't in Paris or Barcelona, or other cities where at least the symbols of the language, if not the words themselves, are familiar. Is this how our preschoolers feel as they try to learn to read?

This is supposed to be a picture post, so I will let my pictures tell the rest of the story:
little girl in hello kitty face mask; I'd never get my kids to keep one of these on, hello kitty themed or not

Tokyo from the Asakusa view hotel

Asakusa at night 

 Sensoji Temple, Asakua

 More Senoji Temple Views

Shinjuku (by the red light district). I wonder what these say?!

 Early Cherry Blossoms in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (新宿御苑)

Over at Pond Parleys Mike reminded us of this wonderful quot, which rang so true for me on the trip.

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime".
– Mark Twain