March 27th, 2014

Book Cover

Cherry Blossoms!

Steve and I are in Japan.  We left San Francisco on Monday and arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday.  We went to Mt. Fuji and the Hakone area of Japan on Wednesday, and then, yesterday explored Tokyo with a wonderful guide/friend, and then, took a very fast train to Nagoya last night where I am now, looking out on a city that was a complete surprise.

Nagoya seems busier than Tokyo.  Today we go to Kyoto.  I am giving you a lot of words here, because I don't know how to give you the experience.  I am speechless.  I saw the cherry trees in blossom yesterday and walked the promenade in Ueno Park.  I entered a Shinto shrine, drew a blessing at a temple. I drew "best fortune".  Who could argue with that?  I felt some of the history of Japan in the Edo-Tokyo museum.  Mainly I feel beauty and awe.

I want to give you a taste of this experience but I seem unable to find words.  I feel immersed in something bigger than I, as though I am the fruit in the flower still waiting for form. Oddly, the cherry blossoms we so admire are ornamental.  They don't bear fruit.  I also saw yesterday how it is the pruning that allows the presentation that literally takes one's breath away and lifts.  Mt. Fuji, also, is breath-taking.  We saw a great deal of snow there.  It has been an unusual winter in Japan.  The snow on Valentine's Day in the Mt. Fuji area actually isolated certain areas, and food was air-lifted in.  We have experienced rain and snow and today is predicted to be sunny but it is all so beautiful. This is a felt experience. I don't have words.  Perhaps I will find them in Kyoto.  My son tells me that the book stores there are works of art, because the owner, like a sommelier, arranges the books to his or her taste, so linking and displaying them as one might in their own home.  Yesterday in the Edo-Tokyo museum, I saw a reproduction of the first book stores in Japan.  They used woodblock printing, long before the advent of movable type but it became popular in the Edo period which is 1603 to 1867.

I watched two movies on the plane, Philomena and The Book Thief, both of which I recommend.  In The Book Thief, we see how innocent people get caught up in the tyranny of war, in the orchestration of a powerful few. We see it over and over again.  The people want peace.  The generals want war.  I think of the museums I've visited around the world where there is a focus on weapons.  Is it possible to change that, or are we always caught on the edge, or in the middle,, of violence even as we stand entranced and embraced by the glow of blossoms in spring.