Asia | Japan – Bamboo (zzled)
My impressions of Japan have been moving as fast as the bullet train here (300km/hr). I am currently in Kyoto. I started out in Tokyo, and was able to do some Aikido with the only female run school in Japan. The place had a wonderful feel about it, and it allowed me to see a style of Aikido more aggressive than the one I play at.
Tokyo makes New York City look like Boise, Idaho. There are so many lights and skyscrapers at any given subway stop in Tokyo that its like seeing 20 midtown Manhattans in quick succession. Very surreal at first. Japan, Im sorry to report, is pretty ugly in the urban hyperdevelopment sense, but the interesting thing is, right in the middle of all of these lights and noise and people, there will be a shrine, or a temple or a quiet sacred place.
Because the country is so mountainous, one doesnt have to stray very far to find natural beauty. In the historical areas surrounding Kyoto, I’ve seen many Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Tonight I visited a shrine (Kodai-ji) complex, replete with sand garden, tree garden, a bubbling pond, and statues all beautifully lit by electric lanterns. The most stunning feature was a grove of bamboo trees lit from the ground up. The leaves looked so soft that I wanted to defy gravity and go roll around in the treetops. Another stunning site was a shrine just south of Hiroshima where the shrine sits over a bay on a series connected wooden docks.
Visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki in light of recent events reminded me just how destructive we can be to our fellow humans. But while I was in Peace Park in Nagasaki, I came across a statue by a Russian sculptor that I had met while in St. Petersburg…reminding me of how we are all connected.
We are also all connected by food. And I’ve had the privilege of sampling some great sushi, wrapped in everything from crepes to parsimmon leaves, and some interesting euro-japanese cuisine including seaweed covered spaghetti, and some bean paste croissant. Im waiting to find some cucumber tiramisu…(okay, maybe not).
Tomorrow I am going to check out Himeji, a Japanese castle, and then going to the Japanese Alps the next day and hopefully see Mt. Fuji before heading back to Tokyo. From there I am trying to arrange a trip to Thailand, but I dont know if it is going to work out.
Even though its a group email, my thoughts are with you all. Yes, even you. One last thing, the hot springs here smell like boiling eggs.