WWW – Kon’nichiwa to Japan

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I just love that quote by Saint Augustine. Don’t you?

Now for catch up time. Here are the places I’ve been revisiting by dipping into my old journal during these past two weeks:

  • 11/5-7/90 – more time with the cousins in Melbourne. Highlight: the Melbourne Cup Horse Race – an event that’s as much a national holiday and as a sporting competition. Not to be missed if you are ever in Oz the first week of Nov. So fun! The best part was I picked the winning course, based solely on its name which reminded me of Mark. “Kingston Rule” was the horse and Mark was living in Kingston, ON, at the time. The Aussies in the crowd around us who at first told me I was crazy to bet on such a long shot were yelling, jumping, and hugging me when my horse came in first! Such a great memory. If only I’d bet more than a couple of bucks, the payout could have financed many more weeks of travel! The win actually freaked me out a bit, because I superstitiously wondered if it was a sign that I wasn’t supposed to give up on Mark, whom at that point in time, was an on-again-off-again obsession. Funny thing: I just googled that horse and found out that to this day it still holds the record for the best ever Melbourne Cup time – if I were still a person who believed in signs, that one would be a doozy, wouldn’t it?
  • 11/8/90 – arrive in Tokyo. SO EXCITED ABOUT BEING IN ASIA!
  • 11/9–11/90 – Takayama, pretty town in the foothills of the Japanese alps that retains a 17th century  feel. Fall colours were in full force. Beautiful intro to Japanese culture. Splurged on staying in a traditional “ryokan.” Almost impossible to believe, but I ate sushi for the first time here. My kids think sushi of as common as a pb&j sandwich, but I travelled half-way across the world 25 years ago to try this exotic delicacy!
  • 11/12–19/90 – Kyoto. Stayed in a cheap, crummy hostel/boarding house while figuring out our plan for a long stay in Japan.
    hostel, Japan

    This is what Uno House looks like now, according to the net. Pretty much as I recall it, only a lot tidier. And, luckily, the image doesn’t capture the aroma of a shared backpackers’ dorm either.

    Job hunting and deciding which area to settle in. Uno House, remarkably, is still in business! (I just looked it up online… which make me wonder how we found these places before the internet. How did we anyway? WOM?) Met all sorts of international travellers here, some of whom I kept in touch with for a long time but have sadly lost track of now. Great adventures meeting quirky folks and figuring out Japanese customs during these early days. Our stay in Kyoto is the source of some of my loveliest visual memories  (the city is known as the most beautiful in Japan) and some of the ugliest too (Bed bugs. Yikes! And scummy hostel toilets shared with backpacker dudes from all over the world.) Intro to Japan was a definitely a double-edged samurai sword!

  • Japan, Temple

    At Kinkaku-Ji Temple, thought to be Japan’s most beautiful man-made site, with Luca, Italian photographer and fellow Uno House resident. It’s covered in gold! The reflection in the lake: spectacular!

     

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