It’s been such a long time since I’ve written anything on this blog that I almost forgot my password! Between our family being sick off and on for a month (my diagnosis: we got sick from the dang Bluebell ice cream that was recalled for containing listeria), and traveling, and just being a little bit inside my own mind for a while, there’s just been no room for opening up to the world and writing it all down.
But in an interesting turn of events, Luke and I got the opportunity to travel to Japan so he could attend an Ob/Gyn conference hosted by the Japanese Ob/Gyns. And I would be remiss if I didn’t say that this trip was so precious and amazing. I’m going to try to bullet point all the things that come to mind as I think back over our time there, in no particular order….
*Our Japanese hosts for the conference were nothing if they weren’t respectful and kind and openhearted. The banquet dinners we attended were over the top fancy and delicious, and they were so accommodating that we never had a need that hadn’t already been thought of. The spouses of the Ob/Gyns were so kind and friendly, taking me under their wing and showing me their heritage, and they were truly gracious.
*I’ve never been bowed to more before in my entire life, so if I start bowing to you just give me a little bow back and all will be well. Really, can we please start bowing to each other here in America? The feeling is priceless. Even the curb attendants bow to the buses as they pull up. I’m serious, you can’t help but just feel so honored.
*Let’s talk toilets…My bottom has never felt more honored in it’s entire life, people. Again, can we in America please adapt some Japanese habits? Every single toilet has a heated seat, some toilets automatically lift the lid for you (huge surprise that made me jump a little the first time). They all come equipped with electronic bide’s and with little pictures to show you exactly which button to push in order that your favorite part of your bottom gets sprayed (I did not use these features. I’m sorry, I just can’t embrace the whole bottom spraying culture). And also, I consider it a huge accomplishment that I spent a whole week in Japan and never had to use a squatty potty; mostly that doesn’t say as much about me as it does about there being plenty of Western toilets in Tokyo these days.
*Japanese people, at least the big city folk (I can’t speak to people who live in more rural areas since we had no time to traipse along the country side), are extremely fashionable. And with that, they are bold as all get out. I came back with a renewed sense of “I can wear it if I want to” because I really think that’s how they get dressed in the morning. Almost anything goes–socks with heels, shorts with panty hose, lots of layers, you name a combination and I can guarantee you it’s been worn in Japan.
*That said, I also felt like quite the scandalous girl for wearing my skinny jeans and flats with nothing covering my bare feet…I only spotted ONE person who did the same thing…everyone else wore hose or tights or socks, even with their converse and shorts. Now maybe in the summer things are a bit different, but it’s safe to say that here in south Texas hose have not made a come back in a while (unless you’re a business lady, to which I have nothing to say).
*Let’s talk breakfast–while we were in Yokohama at the conference, we got to eat from the fancy buffet in a room that faced the water, which was lovely. The coffee was excellent–I’m always so geared up for the weak coffee that will be served, which is always served at every other hotel I’ve ever stayed at, but not here, it was strong and dark and rich. Ah, but it’s quite fascinating to see the selections and to realize how different our American breakfast is compared to theirs. They eat salads and vegetables and miso and Japanese porridge topped with all sorts of savory items, and hardly any fruit. It’s safe to say they have a much healthier way of eating than we do. It was all delicious, and I’m now on the hunt for a good sesame dressing to compare to what I had for breakfast over there.
*There’s nothing like the real thing-the Japanese Sunken Gardens. So we have a Japanese Sunken Gardens here in San Antonio, but now that I’ve been to the real thing it just doesn’t compare. It was breathtakingly beautiful, with every landscaped item perfectly planned and with perfect peace in mind. It was beautifully maintained and apparently if you come in September it’s just perfect for moon viewing over the Patagonia. And also, lots of Japanese have their weddings here, and we got to see several brides and grooms having their pictures done. They still wear Kimonos for their ceremonies.
*Sushi. Sushi. Sushi. We waited inline outside the best sushi place in Tokyo for two hours the first night, and it was totally worth it. The tuna was so fresh, as it should be since Tokyo has the largest fish market in the world, from what I understand. And you need to know that by the time we found this sushi place I was an expert at chopsticks, having used them for every single meal. I can down an entire salad with chopsticks, friends–it may not be pretty, but the food enters my mouth, and that’s all that matters. We loved this place so much we went back two days later and waited in line outside in the rain..that’s how you know if something is worth it.
*Apparently we missed the peak of the cherry blossoms by one week, but what we saw was so beautiful that we’d never know what we missed. We enjoyed walks through the Imperial Palace grounds, and Luke would go running there in the morning, although he got yelled at by the Japanese Guard for running on the wrong path (I need to add that sometimes the signs are a little complicated–the drawings of runners in fact resemble swimmers, and since those signs are placed right next to the motes outside the Imperial Palace, one might wrongly assume the sign is saying “no swimming.” thankfully no arrests were made.)
*Rain–it rained every single day we were there, but these people are prepared for rain. At one point we looked up a side street to see a sea of umbrellas, it was quite a pretty sight. And while I had come with a travel umbrella, I failed to bring one for Luke so we were sharing the tiny umbrella until we found a Family Mart to buy one for him. Our shoes remained soaked and stinky for a few days.
*The Tokyo zoo was great–all of the animals performed, and I even made sweet eye contact with a baby gorilla, face to face with just the glass in between, and I feel certain she was saying in her mind, “Momma, Momma.” But alas, I had to leave here there–we will forever remain kindred spirits.
*I am still not eager to eat seafood for a while. It was delicious and amazing and wonderful and fresh, but due to the sheer quantities and frequency of seafood eating we had, including some gelatinous things filled with various and sundry fish eggs and odds and ends and seaweed, I’m okay with some meat and potatoes for the time being. But soon I will be headed to Groomer’s for some fresh tuna and will be attempting to imitate the best salad I’ve ever had. If I hit on the perfect taste, I’ll share the recipe.
*Random other tidbits and places we visited: Ueno Park, Asakusa, Shibuya, Hibiya Park, Yokohama, Kamakura, Sensoji (temple), Buddha (in Kamakura), and several other gardens and parks.
So all in all, it was a lovely time. The Japanese people are respectful and kind, and quiet. The city was clean and hospitable and it truly was a delight to experience.