Skip to main content

Reflections on the running water - Japan

It's now a week since we returned from Japan and there has been time to reflect on the journey.

Negatives first. I feel that the holiday was too short, too rushed. We seemed to spend a good portion of each day travelling on trains. For me, that is not unusual as my daily commute to and from work is at least three hours by rail. But B didn't enjoy the non-Shinkansen portions and it was difficult to relax with her unease.

More difficult was, I think, that there were only a couple of locations where we stayed more than one night. From all our travels we have learned that it staying a few nights in the same place can make a large difference to your enjoyment. There's less packing and unpacking, dragging luggage around. You get a feeling for the rhythms of the place, can revisit a restaurant or shop that you especially like. There is less pressure to make instant decisions knowing that you cannot revisit them.

Following on from this were the hotels we stayed in. I think that we have become a little spoiled lately. None of the hotels were awful, but a few of the locations didn't offer non-smoking rooms and smelled rather musty as a consequence. On the plus side, they all offered free internet access in one form or another. We also enjoyed the Japanese style room at the Hotel Hana in Takayama. The tatami mat floor feels so good to walk on with tired feet and I enjoy sleeping on the futons. I have to recommend this hotel if only for the very friendly service and the potato salad at breakfast. The Osaka Cross Hotel also wins plaudits from us, especially the Japanese bathroom.

Despite the hurried pace of this trip I really did enjoy the places we visited. Each had something special and different about it. B and I agree that our absolute highlight of this trip was relaxing in the teahouse at Ritsurin-koen in Takamatsu. Sitting on a tatami mat with the shoji screens opened to let in the breeze and the beautiful garden views was wonderful wherever we were in Japan and I should have liked to stay in a suitably scenic ryokan to enjoy such experiences longer.

Perhaps Tsumago might be such a place for a ryokan stay. Despite the tourist buses the tiny historic town retained a sense of peacefulness and of a life lived despite the cameras. I would have enjoyed walking the trails around the town and sinking into life in the town away from the neon madness of Japan's cities.

Some of the craziest areas of Japan can be found at the main railway stations of major cities. I love the mini-cities that are such stations with so many hotels, restaurants and shops surrounding the station that you often feel that you don't need to leave the station grounds except aboard a train.

The thing about Japan is that on the surface it can look pretty boring. Grey suburbia and factories, yet another castle or temple. But scratch the surface and it feels like there are an infinite number of things to see, do and enjoy. Each time I leave Japan I do so feeling like there is so much more I want to experience.

In part 2 I'll reflect on the flights.


Popular posts from this blog

Ho Chi Minh to Hoi An

The easy way to get to Hoi An from Ho Chi Minh City is to fly to Danang then go via car for the final leg. Then there's my way. We had to wake at 5.30 am to get ready for a 6.15 departure from the hotel. A hotel car took us the few kilometres to the domestic terminal at the airport, where we checked into our Vietnam Airlines flight to the central Vietnam city of Hue. The airport was nothing flash, but it seemed functional. Alex had sandwiches (refused banh mi) for breakfast, then we went to the gate. Our blue Airbus A321 was parked at a remote stand, which necessitated a packed shuttle bus ride. It was nice to be aboard a full service airline again, even if the service was just a cup of water. We took off over the hazy skies of Ho Chi Minh City and for most of the smooth flight were cruising over a carpet of cloud. We descended over mountains poking their heads through the cloud, across lakes and paddy fields and over the beach. It was lovely scenery.

The Carlingford Line

We close the year and the decade with a local adventure to mark the closure of a railway line. On the January 5, 2020, the Carlingford Line from Clyde will close to be partially replaced by the Parramatta Light Rail. This is Sydney's quietest line, a single track branch for most of its length from the industrial centre of Clyde to the northwestern suburb of Carlingford. According to Wikipedia, power supply and signalling issues mean that only a single four car train can utilise the line at a time. Newer Sydney trains run in fixed eight car configurations. This will be the first and last time I traverse the Carlingford Line in its current configuration. The weather of the day is certainly appropriate for an ending, the brown smoke haze lending an apocalyptic air to proceedings. I drive to Padstow and catch the T8 line to Central, followed by the T1 towards Parramatta and Penrith. The historic homes of the Inner West give way to industrial complexes, rail storage yards and t

A lazy day at the beach

It's 2am and somebody is still setting fireworks off on the beach in front of the hotel. I can't see the explosions as I have the window shuttered, but I can still hear them. I've wanted to have a lazy day and today was the closest I got. I woke up in the night from a very sad dream. Dreams follow crazy paths, but this one resolved itself as so. An entity had been causing disruption of computer systems around the world. It turned out that this entity had emerged from the computer networks and had been struggling to gain access to more computing power so that it could live. The entity had taken on the persona of a woman. The protagonist who had "defeated" the entity discovered that it was alive, spoke to it. Ultimately fell in love with her. But his prior actions would lead to its death. As a gift to her he downloaded his memories so that she could experience life even as she died. I know it sounds like a pulpy sf or technopunk plot, but dreams are about feelings,