A Nightingale Sings in Nijo-jo

Kyoto, Japan

June 28, 2009

Enter the Edo Era: Nijo Castle

A nightingale sings in Nijo-jo (Nijo Castle) – with every step you take. Centuries before the Twitter age, the Tokugawa shogunate already used tweets. This castle, built in the 17th century in Kyoto, is famous for its wooden floors that tweet – the uguisu bari (nightingale floor). When I got to Kyoto, it was the first place to wanted to see – and hear.

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Found in Translation

Osaka / Tokyo, Japan

June 24 and 27, 2009

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Towel. No, not a cloth to cover your nakedness as you emerged from an onsen (a public hot bath). Just an example of the Japanese quirk of rolling the hard /r/ to a loopy /l/, as in that hilarious scene in Lost in Translation involving a befuddled Bill Murray and a demanding dominatrix. In my case, I got befuddled looks because I looked Japanese but couldn’t speak Nihonggo. Continue reading “Found in Translation”

The Morning After

Yokohama, Japan

June 27, 2009

I survived Tokyo. Its crowds, its convoluted metro lines, its punishing summer heat. “There’s got to be a morning after,” went the cheesiest song ever from a disaster movie. After a full day traversing Tokyo, I found that perfect morning after in Yokohama. Not that the day, or night, before was a disaster. It was just the most gruelling city tour I had ever done.

Old World Elegance of New Grand Hotel in Yokohama

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And the Loyalty Award Goes to…

Tokyo, Japan

June 26, 2009

The world’s most faithful dog and the last samurai. Two stories. Two statues. Two symbols of loyalty. Two sides of one city. I saw the dog statue first thing in the morning, the samurai one before I ended my first day in Tokyo. One devoted his life to loyalty; the other sacrificed his for it.

Hachiko: Waiting for Godot

Hachiko and Me: Shibuya Station, Tokyo

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Memoirs of a Genji

Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Japan

June 25, 2009

A long long time ago…in a land far far away…there was a lady with powdery-white face, blackened teeth, and brows in the middle of her forehead. She retreated to a mountain temple and came up with an epic tale “on the night of the full moon.”

Lady Murasaki in Ishiyama-dera

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The Samurai Castle

Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan

June 24, 2009

I had seen posh palaces, towering temples, and formidable fortresses, but a castle complex eluded me – until I got to Himeji, a quaint little city near Kobe. Himeji-jo (jo being castle in Nihongo) was completed in the early 1600s, yet it stood as the best-preserved castle in Japan, even emerging unscathed from WW2 bombings.

Himeji-jo: White Egret Castle

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Swine Flu over the Pacific Rim

Osaka, Japan

June 23, 2009

Less than two weeks before my flight to Japan, WHO declared the swine flu, or A(H1N1) flu, outbreak, a pandemic. By then, the virus had circled the Pacific Rim, having started in Mexico on that side of the ocean and now spreading like a viral Susan Boyle video in the Asia-Pacific region.

Cindy and Cebu Pacific

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