Thursday, 9 February 2017

I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so...

Hey you :) good to see you again. I like what you've done with your hair. Looks good. No really. Check that out.
So back from holiday now, bit shattered, timeline all screwed up since I've written this at almost midnight, but you bet, I'm still grinning from ear to ear. Had the best time with my family, Japan is amazing in every way I could describe. 
Andrea, Trey, Finn and I boosted over there - and when I say "boosted" I really mean "sit in a flying cylinder for 11 hours straight trying to either sleep, get comfortable, watch something entertaining or all at the same time" - for an adventure / intrepid journey type holiday. Been a dream of mine for many years.
And boy was it incredible.
Here are a few of the things we managed to do;
Lego-land, Disneyland, Edo-Tokyo Museum with an english speaking guide, the Hato Bus tour taking in the Imperial Castle, the Sensoji Temple and a river cruise, shopping in Shibuya, went to the geek (Otaku) centre of Tokyo where the boys bought lots of Dragon Ball Z figures each, rode the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Kyoto (yes its fast), visited the Tenryuji Temple, the Arashiyama bamboo grove, fed the monkeys running free around us up on top of a mountain in falling snow, went to the Fushimi Inari-Taisha shrine and to a Samurai Performance (with a ninja included). We went to Osaka, visited the castle, the Aquarium and went shopping in Dotonbori. We ate crazy stuff, caught up with a great friend of mine who I've known since kindergarten (preschool) and his lovely wife and walked at least a ba-zillion miles.
All in 8-9 days. Talk about gettin' in and gettin' it done! 
Would I go again? You betcha! Loved it. 
But why did I love it? For me the thing was, even in the crazy busy centres where there are hundreds if not thousands of people bustling along, there is still a underlying peace there. A softness, a calm beneath the hustle and bustle. People still rushed, urgency was still present, it just seemed that the majority of people were simply enjoying what they were up to.  
Am I romanticising? Maybe a little. Still recovering from jet lag. But regardless, imagined or not, there was a smoothness and efficiency to things you don't get here. 
The thing that really sold it for me was, wasn't the places we visited or the things we did. It was more than that. It was the one thing that stood tall above everything else.
Japan seems to be a nation of helpful and genuinely kind people.
So many times we must have looked confused or lost trying to negotiate the multi-coloured Spaghetti Bolognese lines that are the Japanese rail system (which are also written in Japanese). It never took long before we were approached out of the blue by people asking us if we needed help, many who only spoke a tiny fraction of English. One older gentleman even walked about two blocks with us to get us to our destination before happily bowing then setting back off in the direction we had come from. No issue. 
This happened so many times that this cultural difference has had me wondering about our own backyard. 
Would that happen in NZ? 
The answer - yes, of course it does. But certainly not as often as it should.
Ask yourself: how many times have I walked past someone who looked lost? Or confused? Especially obvious visitors to our country? 
I'll bet lots. I know I have, haven't given them a second thought. People visibly upset however, I've always tried to stop and help if I've been able to.
In Japan - as far as I could tell given our brief stay - ignoring someone in distress isn't an option. Even if the distress is minimal like confusion looking at maps. They seemed to have a need to ensure visitors to their country enjoyed their stay. It could have been patriotism, a cultural growth or any number of things. 
Rather than complain about the (very) tall different looking barbarians, both young and old, English speaking or not, made an effort to smooth things out for us.
It was refreshing, even confronting at times given language barriers. But amazing. Inspiring.
So this led me to start paying attention to visitors to NZ (of which I'm sure there will be increasing numbers of given the latest lot of idiot Trump initiatives) to see if I can make a difference like the nice people in Japan did for my family and I.
Paying it forward. And now I'm encouraging you to do the same whether you are here in NZ with me, or somewhere else in the world.
How good do you think it will feel if you are able to help make someone's trip to NZ that little bit more stress free? Simple directions, a kind word. 
I'll bet you'll try, its why you come to read these posts I put up. You're a helper, just like me. 
Finishing up this wordy post, here are a few pics from our intrepid journey to the land of the rising sun, which incidentally I actually got to see as we flew in at sunrise.
Kyoto Samurai Experience
Tokyo pretend "Geisha" at the Sensoji Shrine
Anime "Gundam" statue
On the Shinkansen Bullet Train
Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine - Kyoto
Osaka Castle
Feeding the monkeys at Arashiyama Monkey Park

A great dinner out in Osaka at the restaurant "EN"

Please don't forget - if you can - help the odd tourist here and there when you see them struggling with anything. As a patriot of our own country or just as a good person, its the least we can all do.
Have a great day. Thanks for stopping by.