Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Post script

I've been home now for almost a month, and not a day goes by without my thinking of Japan.  My experience in that wonderful country was truly a life changing experience.  Not that my day to day life has changed.  I still live with my two dogs and two cats.  My work has not changed.

It is my attitude that has changed.  Maybe it was my imagination.  Maybe it was the fact that I "escaped" my life for 2 weeks.  But there was something about the people in Japan that put me at peace.  And I've remained at peace since I returned.  My days have actually been MORE stressful since my return.  A sick family member.  Tough days at the office.  But I am at peace.

I opened this blog telling the story of how I came to take this trip.  I read the opening post, and I realize that I still was quite angry at my deceased wife.  For wasted years, for the pain she put me through.  Somewhere along the way, I lost that anger.  There is no more of it left.  Do I miss her? Yes.  and No.  I miss her kind soul, her smile.  I do not miss the pain she put me through for 17 years.  And I have forgiven her.  Completely

Soon after my return home, I went out for pizza and beer with one of my closest friends (who I think of as the brother I never had).  He told me that he could feel the anger leaving me when I was in Hiroshima.  In hindsight, it started leaving in Kyoto at the bar when I met Yasuhiko,  a little more left at  Ryoan-J (the Zen Temple), and evaporated on leaving the Peace Park in Hiroshima.

I am ready to go forward with my life,  I awaken each day with the joy that I am alive, I am healthy and I have wonderful friends and family.  I've discovered new foods that I never imagined could be so good (Daifuku is my new favorite food-- I have the ingredients to try making it, but I've been scared so far).  I cherish good food.  I cherish all the wonderful people in my life.  I cherish a good drink (I'm drinking a Scotch right now).  In two days, I'll get to see a good portion of my family at my Uncle's birthday party.  I cannot wait to see them all.

This is a wonderful world that we live in.  So many incredible things to see, and people to meet.

I'll close with a picture of my dog who is sitting on the couch with me, her sister by the fireplace, and of my cats that I took this morning.

The question now is:  WHERE DO I GO NEXT????

Sunday, April 6, 2014


My last full day here was spent cleaning up loose ends (getting my ticket for the train to the airport tomorrow), and doing some shopping.  And eating of course.

Started off my day by going to Tokyo station to get my ticket to the airport.  Once that was done, I walked to Ginza to do some shopping.  Damn those stores are obscene.  Made my way to a Singapore restaurant where I had some fantastic Xiao long bao (dumplings filled with different soups) and noodles with DanDan broth (nice and spicy).  After lunch I found what I was looking for.  A new knife.

Then I started people watching.  They closed one of the major roads in Ginza, and open it up as a pedestrian mall.  Everyone and their dog was out! And I mean that literally.

This man stood there with his dog while his wife shopped.  The baby carriage is for the dog.

I loved this young woman.  She was strutting down the street, but still kept her mask on.

And the SHOES that these women wear!

This lady just rocking the purple hair!

I love how he matches his dog!

Once I had enough of people watching, I took the subway to Roppongi Hills to look around.  On my way to the subway, I saw this.  A McLaren!!!
Roppongi Hills is a master planned, multi-use community.  If you've been to Uptown Dallas, that's what it reminded me of. Lots of shopping, cafes (some chains, lots of little independents) a fewvery upscale restaurants (like Atelier de Joel Roubechon), the Grand Hyatt (not the Lost in Translation one, that's the Park Hyatt), and condos/apartments.  They also had a nice little park.  Of course there were Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)

That's it for my last day in Japan.  That night, I went back to Roppongi, but to the older area.  I ate at a fantastic restaurant that I have no idea of the name.  I just walked in since it was pretty crowded and lively.  Had sashimi, a tempura shrimp dumpling, and some sushi.  And a lot of sake.  I was the only non-Japanese person there, and I ordered by pointing.  FANTASTIC.

Now I'm at Narita Airport in the United Lounge waiting for my flight (another perk of Business Class). I'm ready to go home.  I miss my dogs and cats, and believe it or not, really miss work.

I'll post one more post about this trip in a few days, once I've decompressed.  But I can say that this was one of the best things I've done in my life.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


After a few days in Tokyo, I took a day trip to Nikko, another holy place. I woke up early, caught a local train to Tokyo station, then a Shinkasen 3 stops toward Sendai and then transfer to the Nikko railway.  I was relying on Google maps to plot the route, and they hadn't let me down yet.  I got off the train to this.

And nothing else.  Hrm.  Something is wrong.  I left the station to discover that I'd left the train one stop too early.  SO, I waited the 20min for the next train.  (there was no other way to get the 10km)

Ahhh, that's more like it.  This is the oldest extant train station in Japan.  It was cool and looked like more rain (luckily stayed dry though).  I then walked the 2-3km through town to get to the Rinnō-Ji Temple complex.  On the way, I saw the town government offices

and then made my way to the park that holds all the historical buildings.

Crossed the river, and...LOOK MORE STAIRS!  (I really didn't mind, my legs had recovered by now)
Unfortunately for me, the main temple at Rinnō-Ji is being renovated.  And by renovated, I mean dissembled completely and rebuilt.  And renovating the Buddhas.  So only one Buddha was able to be viewed (no photographs inside any of the Buddhist temples, so you guys can't even see the one I saw).

They did allow us to see the renovation, which I thought was incredible.  It is set to be finished in 2020 for the Tokyo Olympics (Himeji Castle is undergoing the same type of renovation).  So they build a steel building around the temple and then take it apart, find areas of bug damage or rot (these are purely wooden buildings made without nails or glue) and then recut and treat new cedar and rebuild.

I walked around the gorgeous grounds and meditated a bit

I then headed up to Tōshō-gūTōshō-gū which is the mausoleum of Tokugawa-Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate.  These grounds are unbelievable, and are a Shinto Shrine.

There were some vending machines up at the top of those stairs, and the old question of how they fill the machine and empty the garbage was answered.
This guy has got to have one of the world's hardest jobs.  But I bet his legs are iron. (this was him walking down-later I saw him carrying cases of cans of coffee, water and green tea-UP the stairs)

They have a nice museum with artifacts from that period, and then I walked back to the train.  First stopping for some Udon and Yakitori. 

The sun came out for my walk back to the station.  But while on the train, there were some bad electrical storms, so I won't complain.