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Monday, November 10, 2014

On Visiting Japan

I have just returned from my autumn excursion to Japan, and I feel reflective, although my thoughts are likely a bit jumbled owing to jet lag. The Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX has been transformed into something quite attractive and pleasant.

ANA adheres to a regular time table and delays are in minutes, not half hours - even a five minute delay is apologized for. However, there is no getting around the fact that a flight of 11 hours is pure torture for the likes of me.

LAX, California

Last spring I tore a ligament in my hip - and it sounds ridiculous that it was due to all the sitting. This time my legs were in a great deal of pain. I don't think I can do it again - even though I have been through the long journey ten times since 2010. I will need a stopover in Hawaii (or else to be heavily sedated!) before continuing to Japan.

I feel it is a privilege to come to Japan. I think a visitor should strive to be polite, patient, kind, and since I am an American, smile and be friendly and approachable

My daughter Amanda and I make certain we observe every rule carefully and follow every law, such as only crossing the street on the green go-ahead. We feel we are akin to guests in someone's house and we should behave in the most considerate way possible.

Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan

I love Japanese history and I appreciate seeing the preservation of historical artifacts, stories, and structures. We enjoy visiting the various Japanese castles and imagining the life of a castle town.

I love the beautiful forests - Japan being the second most forested country on earth. I appreciate the seasonal changes - the cherry blossoms, the wisteria vines, the bright persimmons, and the yellow ginkgo leaves.

Japanese tonkatsu curry

I love the food! I like going to the small cafés for cake and coffee. I finish off a full plate at the curry house, I eat bowls of udon, I have pasta and pizza. But do note: I will not eat at a McDonald's and you shouldn't either. I have begun seeing overweight young people in Japan. One day on the JR I witnessed a young teenager holding the largest box of McDonald's fries I have ever seen - and I am from the land of the over fed.

I am mesmerized by all the water - rivers, streams, lakes. They are beautiful and we don't have them in drought-ridden California. I am also fascinated by the abundance of islands.

Shodoshima, one of the thousands of islands in Japan.

As a Catholic, I attend Mass on weekends and I am sincerely appreciative of the opportunity to attend Mass in Japan. There is always a church wherever we travel. Seeing how Mass is celebrated even when the number in attendance is very slight makes me feel grateful for the efforts of the Japanese clergy. It makes the problems of my home parish seem very petty.

Cute masks are part of the cute culture of Japan.

I like the culture of cute in Japan and how it is faced so matter-of-factly. You might see teenage boys or adult men with a cute key chain and no one blinks an eye. Of course with girls and women cuteness is abundant.

Now I want to ask some questions. They are not intended as criticisms, but only as curiosity. If the country wants to minimize trash/recycling material, why are there so many vending machines? Don't get me wrong, I like the machines very much, but the output is a lot of plastic. Also, when your purchases are wrapped, so much paper is used. It seems the presentation could still be nice with less wrapping. Why are there so many wires in the cities? Why isn't the wiring underground, such as for the telephone and cable TV?

Forested Japan

The cities would look prettier and there would be no chance of falling electrical wires. Does zoning exist in Japan? Why are there businesses and houses right next to each other? Why do most of the houses look alike? Why doesn't anyone try central heating/air conditioning in their homes? Why are school kids out late on week nights? These are some things I would be interested in knowing, even if the answer is as simple as we like the way we are in Japan.

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