Friday, November 19, 2010
thanksgiving Countdown #17...
New Adventures. Today, this is what I am thankful for.
I was fortunate enough to be able to go on my Culture Club trip with our Japanese friends. We went on a 30 minute train ride and wound up nestled in the gorgeous mountains and right along side the river. It was a gorgeous day (perfectly clear skies, bright sun, a little chilly in the shade) and we enjoyed every minute of it.
We ended up going to the Sawanoi Museum Combs and Ornamental hairpins museum (4000 fancy schmancy type of combs made of gold, ivory, coral, etc - some dated back to 10,000 BC) which overlooked the amazing river and all it's scenery. When we were there, our Japanese friends told us we should visit the bathroom since we were walking a ways to the next stop. And to our joyous surprise, the toilets were flushed using bubbles. They took the water from the river and literally made bubbles to flush the toilets (see photo above).
After the silly Americans were done using the bathroom, we went outside and hiked for about a mile on a path next to the river. We saw people bouldering on some rocks, a man fly fishing, some kayakers, people sitting on the rocks eating lunch, locals selling fruit (grown right there on their property), kids during their PE class at school running around, and amazing foliage. Seriously amazing. And each type of tree had different stories. Plum trees, pear trees, beautiful ginkgo trees (the brightest yellow tree you will ever see), just to name a few...and of course, the amazing japanese maple (just known as maple tree here). The brilliant colors coming from the trees have a lot of significance. Some say there are kimono-designers that base their fabric and makings on the color variations.
After our hike we ended up at a well-known local tofu restaurant. We had to wait a bit, so we muched on some samples in the lobby/gift shop area. Most of us ended up with a bag full or yummies to bring back to family - because it was really that good. Lunch was unique. I am not a tofu lover (texture thing) but I tried a little of everything on my plate. I even tried some salmon eggs (no thanks for the future). I tried to smother as much wasabi on my food as possible to gag it down...but I am glad I tried it!!!
After lunch we went to a famous artist's museum. The artist, Kawai Gyokudo, was one of the greatest masters of the Japanese art world. He was a teacher to Her Imperial Majesty in Japan. He started his artwork at a very early age - but even I (not an art appreciator) was drawn to his work. Their handout says "He had and ability to impress upon the observer a deep feeling of grace and elegance in nature..." and it's true! The mountains, plants, trees and animals all have a place of peace in his work. I was actually drawn to a few of his works, one in particular. Luckily, they sold reproductions so I could own one at a decent price! Most of us ended up buying one since it was such an awesome experience that we will probably not get to go see again (I don't think I could find it again :-) Mine in a picture of a branch with some buds on it...and some japanese writing messily scribbled down the side. It is actually a picture of sights AND thoughts - which I thought was totally cool. His scribbles were not actual thoughts...but thoughts of thoughts (very Power of Now). His museum also had an awesome zen garden - which was very cool to see. I loved the feeling of "bigger than my body" I got while I was there.
We had a few minutes to kill before our train - so we all sat by the riverside and talked and had some snacks. It was picturesque. Seriously. We had a beautiful day, filled with wonderful women that crossed cultural barriers. I am very thankful I had this experience.