Land of the Rising Sun
In March 2018, Judy and I responded to Jun Kodama's (son Leif's and our longtime friend) invitation to visit him and his family in Tokyo. Jun's parents had moved from Tokyo to Ottawa, where he was born and thus became a Canadian citizen. He moved to Japan after completing his education here and taught English until 2000. Since 2001 he has been working as an editor for a company that produces various English proficiency tests for Japanese test-takers.
He married a wonderful Japanese woman, Kyoko, and they have two beautiful, and very talented daughters, Sora (11) and Misa (8), as can be seen in the family photo below taken in a restaurant we visited:
Jun had prepared an excellent and thoughtful agenda for our visit and this kept us busy for the almost three weeks we were in Japan. Needless to say, we took a plethora (1600 or so) of photos during our travels, far too many to include all of them in this article. Therefore, I've tried to select favorites with brief descriptions where possible.
In summary, we had an amazing trip!!! It was a long flight over and back in cramped aircraft seats, and recovering from the 13 hour time difference, but definitely worth it! Many thanks to the Kodamas for their wonderful hosting!!!
Before displaying our photos, I thought it would be appropriate to provide a few details about Japan. It is the geographic size of California and has a population of 127,240,773 as of April 24th, 2018. Tokyo has an amazing population of 38,305,000 which is larger than that of the whole country of Canada! It is a very clean and definitely well organized country with the best rail system I've encountered in all my travels. The people were friendly and helpful. Signs were displayed in Japanese characters, then switched to English translations.
The following are photos from the first few days as we visited several beautiful parks as they exploded into the Japanese Cherry Blossom Spring:
Below are descriptions and formal names of many of the plants we viewed.
When plans for our visit were being made, I mentioned I would like to see the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, so Jun arranged it, and I had a very emotional visit to the museum and park. The first thing I noticed was that although there were about 100 visitors touring the museum rooms, not a sound could be heard! Sad faces and tears were predominant! Also, political comments were definitely not in evidence - no right or wrong suggestions, just the facts!!! Here are some facts and photos concerning the event and in particular the Dome which was one of the few remaining structures:
"At 8:15am on 6th August 1945, the first atomic bomb in human history was dropped on Hiroshima. Although, the Atomic Bomb Dome was located almost directly underneath the explosion, it somehow avoided complete destruction and the remains of the building still stand today. The residents of Hiroshima decided to keep this tragic reminder of war intact. The site was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1996."
The Bomb Dome Now
And as viewed through the Memorial Park Arch
Some emotional photos from the museum display
And finally, the heart rending memorial statue ... hope prevails!
"But will Humankind ever learn???"
On a much less emotional level, Judy and I had the opportunity to visit The Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, also known as Toyota Techno Museum. It is located in Nishi-ku in the city of Nagoya, central Japan.
Toyota (originally Toyoda named after its founder Sakichi Toyoda ) started as a textile firm and evolved over decades into an international automobile producer. His son Kiichiro Toyoda was a Japanese entrepreneur who's decision to take Toyoda Loom Works into automobile manufacturing created what would become Toyota Motor Corporation, the largest automobile manufacturer in the world. The museum was established in June, 1994 and is housed in an old red-brick textile factory. Its display starts with textile looms and then gradually goes over into the history of cars.
On checking in, we were surprised to find out that my obvious age meant 'no entrance fee for seniors'! We spent several hours enjoying the excellent displays of both the textile and automotive sections and could have stayed longer as the museum is very large. Well worth the time!!!
The Textile Empire
Then lunch at the excellent 'on-site' restaurant.
And now the Toyota automotive history.
Moving on, we had the opportunity to visit a beautiful park and see an historic gate or Torii. Here is a description and history of these impressive arches:
"The Torii, or traditional Japanese gates are so popular in Japans culture they have come to be known in the western part of the world as one of the characterizing features of Japan as it is definitely an iconic symbol of the country of the rising sun. The Japanese Torii have a specific religious meaning and have a more or less canonized structure. The Torii doesnt necessarily mark the entrance to a shrine, but is sometimes used to simply mark an area believe to have a deep religious meaning ."
Photos from our travel to the site and park complex.
The deer were free to roam, and very polite and friendly.
The list of sites.
Oh, deer ... !
Miyajama Aquarium Fun
Hmmm, seems fishy to me!
Also fish related was our visit to the Tokyo fish market, evidently the largest in the world!
Here is a description as per 'Google':
"Tsukiji Market (Tsukiji Shijo) is a large wholesale market for fish, fruits and vegetables in central Tokyo. It is the most famous of over ten wholesale markets that handle the distribution of food and flowers in Tokyo. Tsukiji Market is best known as one of the world's largest fish markets, handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day."
The following are some photos from our visit:
FOOD and US
The following photos are of our adventures in Japanese dining.
I didn't pass the chopsticks test!!!
Gourmet dining at the Kodama's International B&B
Kyoko made the very tasty Curry that Jun is headlining.
And Garry toasts the chefs.
Sora (11) and Misa (8) demonstrate their cooking skills, making delicious Miso soup
for our lunch, while Mommy and Daddy were at work.
Chocolate is ... chocolate in any language!
Hamburger Joint, Tokyo style.
Kyoko pours her favourite beer, Sapporo, of course,
celebrating her new job!
Guess what this restaurant serves ...
But ... Life is still Burgers evidently ...
The following photos include other locations/scenes from our travels.
Misa is rained on by blossom petals!
Kyoko and yet more cherry blossoms.
Misa and Sora Shopping in Claire's
Glasses for the lasses.
Works for me as well!!!
Three young women in traditional Japanese dress
in celebration of the Cherry Blossom Festival.
On the seamy-side of town ...
Railway Station simplicity!
The 'Kodamas' check for their train.
The Bullet Trains ready for action!
Museum of Historical Art in Tokyo
And of course, this treasure!!!
Further Explorations ...
Garry can't resist petting a cleverly positioned cat!
A Toilet Warning Sign. This is good to know when travelling ... or perhaps not!
Here is a photo of the Kodamas' lovely home.
Misa beats Garry at Chinese Checkers
This photo is of 'Old' Garry being lovingly led by Misa to make sure he doesn't stumble or get lost. Of course Sora also ensured my well-being. Sometimes both girls helped me at the same time. I was truly impressed and understandably emotional!
Back in Ottawa, displaying our gifts of amazing artistry from Sora and Misa ...
portraits and jewellery!!!
Below are our names in Japanese.