Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Thoughts from Saitama

I thought you'd be very bored by my holiday stories so I'm going to publish them in short posts. Seems more blog-like to me.

For those who don't know, or haven't kept up, my son Jon lives and works in Japan. Liz and I recently took the opportunity (of a lifetime) to visit before he comes home for good, and have a guided tour. Jon speaks very competent Japanese now. Our ability to have bred successful, independent beings is a source of great joy.

We spent some time experiencing ordinary Japan in and around Jon and his girlfriend Carys' apartment. Whilst we did do the tourist thing of ancient monument and gift shop visiting it was this local stuff (off the tourist track) which we really appreciated. Many visitors would simply miss this.

This is me and the lad in front of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) in Kyoto. Although the structure looks really old it is the same age as me, having been completely rebuilt in 1955. The Japanese tend to describe a building as 'centuries old' and then add, 'In that time it's only needed three new sets of walls and four new roofs.' Like the old joke about the spade you've had for twenty years and has only needed two new heads and three new handles.
As many of these ancient places are made of wood, and the winter temperature plummets, it is no surprise that fire has been the major cause of damage to old buildings in Japan over the years. War and earthquakes have also taken their toll. Some of the grounds around temples, pavilions and shrines are beautiful havens of stillness, especially those with koi-laden pools.

A heron sits at the side of this one, watching for the next course. Pictures all by Liz.

A visit in spring is ideal - I will post some thoughts on blossom some other time though. It's complicated.


Mike Peatman said...

Looks wonderful, Steve.


john said...

Living for a time with off-spring in a place unfamiliar to the parents has to be one of those times of heightened awareness of parental 'achievement'. I guess others are:
a wedding (special signal of separation)

age landmark (a son of 40?!)

parenthood (who would have thought that difficult youth could be so besotted with a baby)
and for some, I suppose, recognition/fame (but not many win Nobel prizes).

Keep the travel tales and reflections flowing.