Japan, Ancient & Modern
Katy Haddock’s talk gave members great insights into the mores of ancient and modern Japan, far more than can be shared here.
On arrival in Tokyo, Katy found the City very modern and filled with adventurous architecture. The streets were clean and Katy was impressed with very disciplined driving and well behaved pedestrians. A trip to Tokyo Bay, took Katy and her husband to a high tech entertainment area. They visited the ultra modern Fuji Headquarters Building from which they had great views. Nearby there was a replica of Statue of Liberty, a gift to Tokyo. On the horizonwas the iconic Mt Fuji.
One of the Tokyo highlights is to visit the fish market, the biggest in the world. Katy wanted to see the famous tuna auction but as it takes place at 3 am, she forwent the pleasure. The highlight turned out to be a visit to the rest room! The exceptionally clean, high tech lavatories are something else. Katy’s photograph showed us the complex controls for the toilet. Here we settle for toilet paper, there one gets a seat warmer, a deodorizer, a bidet function, music – the list goes on!
On the more ancient front, Katy went to visit the Nikkō Tōshō-gū Shinto Shrine. We learn Shinto has no scriptures, it revolves around natural things, deities and respect. Parents bring along young children dressed up in colourful Japanese clothes to introduce them to Shintoism. The shrine also attracts Japanese couples wishing to have a traditional wedding. Amusingly, Katy photographed three monkeys carved in the detailing of a mausoleum – the original source of see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil!!
Katy and her husband stayed in Ryokans, traditional family inns. This is the full Japanese experience – no choice in meals, tatami mat floored bedrooms, futons, slippers instead of shoes and shedding outdoor clothes for yukatas, ideal leisure wear, on arrival. Of course, one has to be careful to observe to change into the appropriate slippers for a visit to the toilet!
We The tour included Hiroshima, now a prosperous modern city. However, Ground Zero has largely been left untouched as a record of the first atomic bomb dropped in anger. Katy visited the Peace Museum where evidence of the event is recorded. A wrist watch showing the time of 8:15 poignantly commemorates the detonation along with remnants of clothing and shoes.
On her trip to Nara, an ancient capital of Japan in the 8th Century, Katy experienced being pushed by gloved hands into an unscheduled train back to Kyoto. Normally polite Japanese men proved to be anything but in this situation. However, in consolation, Katy observed a bunch of school girlsin identical uniforms, hats and school bags – a memorable sight. A further insight into another culture and another place. In short, a memorable talk.