It is time to say Sayonara to this amazing country and its lovely people and we are left wondering how you can get a population of 149 million people to be so courteous, so polite, so helpful, so gracious, so happy to share their culture with travellers and to send them home with special memories. They are welcoming everywhere you go. There are people offering assistance everywhere you go. They thank you for coming, thank you for waiting and thank you for everything. The Japanese people do not like to touch each other as in hand-shaking or hugging so there is much bowing and we are so used to bowing it has become second nature. I might even bow to the one in charge of the bowing!
We remember the dolphins who swam alongside the ship one night as we were having dinner on a low deck with a window beside the water. We enjoyed seeing the highway of ships and fishing boats as we travelled the South China Sea and along the coast of Japan. We could have sat for hours and listened to the wonderful pianist onboard the Viking Orion and we were in awe of the people at every port who welcomed the ship and farewelled us when we sailed out of their city.
We will never forget the delicious and healthy food served up in special little colorful bowls and dishes (even if we didn’t know what we were eating at times!) We admired the cleanliness of everything and were surprised that you very seldom see rubbish bins anywhere so we think that the Japanese people take their rubbish home with them. We looked at the skyscrapers in absolute wonder and lauded the designers of these remarkable buildings who had the foresight to design something worth looking at and who created space around the buildings to provide trees and gardens in these busy cities. We loved seeing the magnificent parks and green spaces for people to enjoy away from the hustle and bustle of traffic noise. We couldn’t believe the number of power poles and power lines stretching right through every city everywhere but when you understand that there are geothermal areas everywhere and that Japan sits on four tectonic plates you understand that this is the way it must be. We enjoyed seeing long tree-lined roads with colorful azaleas decorating the sides of the pavements and we applauded the people who have put thought into making this highly populated country a place of beauty. We felt at home seeing the mountains, the bush, the lakes and the sea surrounding this country of so many islands.
We really have felt like a tourist in this country – we cannot speak the language, we cannot read Japanese but we have got by without the need to go to acting class to mime (but we have had to act a bit at times!) Everything is written in Japanese – signage, labels on food, street signs and maps but we have figured it out – mostly!
However, like every country we have visited there are still homeless people which is a sad sight to see. They are not evident during the day but at night they do line some streets with their cardboard boxes and worldly belongings tidily stored around their little sleeping huts. Come morning – they have packed up and gone.
The cherry blossom turned up for us on the last day and it was magnificent. We would recommend Japan to anyone but we would also recommend you do some guided tours where the lovely Japanese guides are keen to share their culture with you so you can learn more about the places you visit and the history behind them.
We go home now where there will not be a buffet breakfast for us to make healthy (or unhealthy) choices! There will be no entertainment shows every night for us to attend, no one coming into the room to clean the bathroom and change the towels, no schedules to look at or signs to try and translate! No immigration forms to fill in, no more Customs folk checking to see ze apple hasn’t fallen into ze bag! We go back to road cones, Auckland traffic and winter storms and cold toilet seats!
We have really felt the Zen in this country and have a profound feeling of being so grateful and thankful and absolutely thrilled that we have had the opportunity to learn more about the people of Japan, their long cultural history, their magnificent country of many many islands and their much admired courtesy.
Sayonara Japan and arigato to everyone of you who made this such a memorable trip and one we would not have missed for the world. If you have travelled with us by reading Golden Postcards we thank you. We love sharing our experiences – travel seems to enlighten the mind. When you visit a country you haven’t been to before you notice things that are different from what you are used to and you are introduced to new experiences you haven’t had before. You see the world in a different light and it gives you hope for the future.
3 thoughts on “Memories of Japan”
I bow to you oh scribe!!
A wonderful summary of your Japanese odyssey.
Certainly food for thought when you return home.
And so ends what would seem to be a magnificent trip. Happy travel home & catchup soon.🙂xx
Thanks TL for the wonderfully descriptive log of your Japanese travels…we have loved reading them and awaited with anticipation for the next episode.