The more special things are the more difficult it is to find words to describe them. My first trip to Japan and I fell in love with the country and especially Tokyo. Feeling so grateful of everything I saw and experienced.
There are three types of destinations. The first one doesn’t touch me in any special way, I’m there to see Mika and meet people. The second type includes beautiful, generally amazing cities like London, Paris, New York and some other cities we all want to visit again and again. The third type is places that somehow speak to me and make me wish I could stay longer and built a personal relationship with them.
I’m always equally happy and surprised to stumble upon places like that. It’s like meeting a very special person (doesn’t happen so often either). Contrast is essential both in people and in places. Reykjavik – one of my favorite places – felt so isolated and so incredibly trendy at the same time. In Tokyo it’s the contrast between the hectic and calm. The busiest corner in the world and a peaceful temple side by side. Loved it.
And the people. Japanese are the most polite people I’ve ever seen. It was easy to see how rude and clumsy I looked among them. A couple of days and I started to make little bows here and there. Back home I already gave presents using my both hands like they do in Japan. Loved their simple and sophisticated sense of style. Loved their wisdom and understanding. The cloudy picture of beautiful and dangerous Mount Fuji above is taken from a high-speed Shinkansen train. Some day I will have a good view on it.
A trip to Japan meant me a possibility to finally meet Eriko in person. I had known her via internet for years and already knew she is a great photographer and a generous and kind person and now learnt she is also very smart and has a great sense of humor. The first thing I saw at Narita airport on Sunday morning was her smiling face and a green balloon she had promised to bring as a sign for me.
She had planned us a visit to the famous Narita temple and we were lucky to see it with very special fire rituals (both inside and outside the temple). We got a professional, two hour guiding in English (just for two of us!) and learnt about the temple and the purifying rituals and after that had a delicious Japanese meal in Narita. Then it was time for me to take a bus to Tokyo.
I was lucky to have three local fans and one not-local fan as guides during my trip. Thank you so much Eriko, Mikage, Toshiko and Zhenya! Zhenya lives in Siperia but had visited Tokyo before and knew where to go and what to do and patiently guided me everywhere. We went to Shibuya on Sunday night and was surreal to see thousands of people walking from every direction loud Star Wars melodies on giant ad screens on the background (above).
On Monday Mikage (the first female Mika I know!) took us to a boat trip to her favorite places and showed us lovely parks, a fish market area full of little sea food shops and restaurants and a magical green area with a peaceful shrine. Zhenya and I followed her example and cured our aching shoulders with purifying smoke and washed our hands and mouths before saying some quiet wishes/prayers. We had our fortunes read and Zhenya and Mikage left theirs to be changed (they weren’t happy with them) but I kept mine as it promised me the best fortune. “Gods will come and where he points to, flowers and fruits grow timely. Good fortune will come and it brings you happiness.” The barrels in one of the photos below are sake barrels, given the shrine as gifts.
In the afternoon it was time for coffee and some fun times at one of the local photo booth centers (dozens of photo machines surrounded by groups of teenage girls) and after that Zhenya and I headed for a dinner with international fans from Europe and Korea. On Tuesday a couple of hours at the biggest local book store (basically heaven for me), a lunch with with a group of fans and then to the venue to meet more fans. I met Grazia and Solange from Italy and France, Lasher with her friends from Korea, Iona from Australia, Yasmin from Malesia and several people from Japan. I had chats with people I haven’t met before or for a long time and even got gifts from people who read my blog. Felt so overwhelmed, thank you so much everyone. Some pics below.
As you can see from photos Osaka is very different compared to Tokyo but I enjoyed it as well. So much fun with Eriko, Toshiko and Zhenya. Eating at local restaurants, crazy shopping at a 100 yen shop (I’ve seen videos of them, always wanted to see one), chatting, learning about Japan (thanks Toshiko who is a teacher for telling about the local school system, always interested in hearing about the differences between countries) and finally good byes. I already missed home and my family after being away from home for several days but didn’t want to say good bye and leave Japan. Thanks everyone who I met and who helped me in so many ways. Thanks Mika for giving me a reason to go all these wonderful places. I could do it without him but there’s more love this way xx