Fair to say that I am not a fan of theme cafes. But the unmistakable line visage of Miffy adorning a cafe in far-off Kamaishi took Veronica and I back to those days some 30 years ago when Dick Bruna’s classics were a favourite in our household. We just had to go in.
That simple outlined image of a rabbit, often depicted with intense colour, associated with parent’s reading and children’s laughter. What a juxtaposition for Miffy to be in front of us here – a place of death and destruction, an engulfing tsunami etched in survivor’s memories, forever captured on video and seemingly endlessly repeated.
So this is Cafe Ryusenkei, an American Airstream caravan from the 60’s transformed into an intimate, mobile cafe fitted out by award-winning designers. Moving from place to place, a calendar identifying the next port of call.
A few hours north of Tokyo is the recently registered World Heritage Site of Hiraizumi that is recognised for its remarkable buildings and gardens that directly express Pure Land Buddhism.
I know little about Buddhism and less about the ancient connections with Japan as we now know it. The central place of Hiraizumi in religious and cultural history is highlighted in the fantastic Hiraizumi Tourism Association website.
So if you plan to head north past Sendai, maybe heading to Morioka, Aomori or over to Hokkaido – I would absolutely recommend a visit to Hiraizumi.
Traveling brings with it an accumulation of momentary conversations and connections. Relationships that are never developed, and highly unlikely to be rekindled. Like a variant on Kazuo Ishiguro’s fantastic book The Remains of the Day.
I smile to myself at times, reflecting fondly on those moments. I think I am a better person for having met otherwise random folk. On the other side of the world, maybe someone is mirroring those memories. I hope so.
There are too many of these instances to document. Making writing interesting about seemingly insignificant travel events relies on the context of being there at the time. A few though stand out for me, shaping an overwhelmingly positive set of experiences in half a dozen short trips to Japan.
So to Yau, Yoshiko and Yuri – I have not forgotten and here is a short version of your story that makes travel both a privilege and joy.
Posted in Disasters, People, Small Towns and Villages, Temples and Shrines, Volunteer Guide
Tagged Emma Thompson, Fire Station 21 Matsumoto, Japan, Kakunodate, Kazuo Ishiguro, Matsumoto, Nikko, Nikko World Heritage area, The Remains of the Day, travel
Ueno Park is a significant draw card for visitors, for its museums, galleries, zoo, temples and quiet contemplation. Just to the north of the Ueno Park precinct is Nippori, an old part of Tokyo that has history, culture and a beautiful park that doubles as a cemetery. Or should that be the other way round? Nippori is definitely worth exploring on foot.
The universal snow symbol near Akita was a good clue that Kakunodate was not going to miss out on the upcoming cold snap. Predicted light snow from Tuesday when i was arriving, through till Friday AM, with the wind chill dropping to -12 Tuesday and rising to a great -5 by Friday.
When I got to Kakunodate it was actually a blizzard. Fantastic for this Australian used to heat and bush fires. White everywhere. I am not one for moping around the hotel foyer. I have traveled too far for that. So on with every piece of clothing and get amongst it.
You would think that after a dozen overseas trips that I would be able to get packing down to a fine art. Well think again.
I am certainly a long way off being competent in the art of packing light. After every trip I write down what I did not use or could have done with out. How hard can it be?