Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Reverse Cultural Shock

Last day in Japan starts early, packing all our belongings, leaving them in the apartment ready to go and heading toward Kiyomizu Dera. Being part of the “must see” either for tourists or for locals means one thing: hordes of people. It’s 8:45 and the place is packed. Policemen survey some steps and are vehemently forbidding people to take their picture. I wonder: is it because the sun is at such height in the sky that we don’t see the steps and could have an accident? We’ll find out later that somewhere in the temple there was a service and the picture would upset it.

Later in the afternoon when we were aloud to take the picture.

Kiyomizu Dera is the last WHS that we are going to visit here. “The Pure Water” temple was built in 778 AD on the site of the Otowa Waterfall. What sets it apart from the other ones is the wooden stage that juts from the main hall, 43 ft (13 m) above the hillside below, stage that enables the visitors to have a wonderful view of the blooming cherries in the spring and changing color maples in the fall. Made entirely from wood (no metal nails) like the temple (closed for some reason), the stage is covered with people moving in a brownian motion. 

The tassel of the bell that one rings after saying the prayer.

Our faces for the size

As any space, it is finite, and when we had our fill, we exit toward the waterfall, whose waters are divided in three streams, each with its benefits: one for longevity, one for success in school and one for a fortunate love life. To drink from all of them is considered greedy… 

At the end of the garden there is a carp with its tail sticking out from the lake, mudding the water. It seemed to wave good-bye. Yes, we’re leaving.

A mailbox

Still we have to walk toward the apartment and as we have a little bit more time we window-shop. Here they sell ogi, or folded fans, their history going back to 794, when they appeared from the collaboration of a priestess of the Mieido hall (part of the Jishu sect of Buddhism) with the other monks.

And in other stores they sell mochi, or a sweet made with mochi, the best sweet thing ever! Mochi is made from a short variety of rice, that goes through soaking, drying, roasting, milling, again soaking and pounding, only to be shaped on plates highly heated, to be sprayed and then packed. It is usually eaten around New Year, when it transforms itself in the most dangerous sweet thing ever. People die every year in Japan, because they don’t chew it well enough, so it sticks in their throat and can’t breath anymore. Why do they eat it? It’s tradition: when kami came on earth, people would offer them the produce of their labor. They can come whenever they like, but around the New Year the Japanese people prepare themselves to be visited by kami. So they clean and cook food for several days (that is because it is considered rude to cook and make noise in the kitchen while a kami may visit you). And the food is mochi, that can be heated quietly. It can be made just itself or with some filling. They sell beautiful boxes with samplers: green tea, apricot, chestnut, mango, chocolate, adzuki beans, etc.

Mochi samples, mmmmm...

Boxes with mochi

It is time. We have to leave. 

Sign on the sidewalk

We take our bags, then a metro to get to the train that will take us to Osaka, but we don’t know which one so we ask a nice employee. Under a deluge of questions from another stressed foreigner and from us, she tells us that she doesn’t want to be there, but patiently gives us our answers in English. We manage to arrive where we are supposed to be, but we can’t exit because we don’t have enough money on one of the cards. The watchman points to a machine to put more money on the card. We don’t want, we want to pay just the difference. He helps us. We would like to recuperate the money from the IC cards. We can’t, we are in a train station, not metro, and he bows.

Symbol of the Expo '70, the Tower of Sun, build by Taro Okamoto, on our way to the airport.

They announce the embarkment to our plane, Daydream, the biggest Japanese airplane, a giant. Though there are plenty of people, more businessmen than travelers, in a few minutes everyone is in their seats. 

And in a short time we arrive in Tokyo. In the airport we stroll around, race cars, eat the last persimons, take in as much as we can. 

The whole airport is in style

We board another plane, they have two gates one for ABC seats, the other for GHI. Five movies later we arrive in Canada.

Suddenly we feel like we are decompressing. We are grateful that we have a space of our own, that we have room to breath, but there is so much wasted space, everything is big and ugly, cars are huge, including our van! We spend the night into a hotel: the bed is too soft and narrow, why can’t we sleep on the tatami?

With one eye we smile and with the other we cry: we’re happy to be away from something that we already miss dearly.

Sayonara! Good bye Japan! Maybe we will come again, in the spring time, to see the blooming cherries!

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