Tokyo was established as the capital when Tokugawa became Shogun in 1603. When the Shogunate ended the Meiji changed its name to Tokyo. This museum documents that period, commonly called the Edo period, It was 250 years of peace and artistic expression
Sharon and I first visited the museum in 2007. At that time it was in a conventional museum building Now it is a modern structure high overhead – like a hovering spaceship! It still features the wonderful models that I enjoyed the first time.
On January 6, I visited the Hokusai Museum with Suzuki san and Takagi san. Less than one year old, it is also a very modern building with a wonderful collection of Hokusai’s works. However no picture taking allowed . . .
Apartment is all decorated for the new year – wall hangings to bring a prosperous year, evergreen outside, and ric e cake.
i stayed home, mostly ’cause I didn’t know where to go, and also ’cause I had no one to share it with. Exchanged messages with Reiko San and Mary San, and watched TV. Many shows with all manner of entertinment, including a lovely concert of live classical music. At midnight, a tour of festivities around Japan, ranging from somber bell ringing at a temple – 108 times -to parties.
Unlike America, the new year is more a family affair – more like Thanksgiving . And it is a three day holiday. I will attend celebrations on the 1st and 2nd at friend’s homes.
Commuting is a way of life in Tokyo. Very few drive to work – they go by bus, subway, and/or train.
Being an old man, I got a Silver Pass for $200 per year, with which I an ride any Tokyo bus and any of four subways free.
I travel to and from my school by one subway and two train rides. It is just under one hour each way. Sounds tedious, but it isn’t really bad. I leave the house at about 7:00, and walk about 10 minutes to the subway station. I go that early to beat the peak of the rush hour, which can be horrible. Even so. I wind up standing, but not crushed, for the two train rides. Coming back at around 1 pm is a breeze.
During the morning, trains run every 3 to 4 minutes, so there is little waiting. Afternoon, it is more like every 5 to 10 minutes – seldom long waits. Outside there is a steady stream of black suits, school uniforms, and women in office outfits heading for the station.
A large percentage of the riders are staring at smart phones, a few are reading books or newspapers, and many are semi-sleeping. No one observes others, except when friends are traveling together.
I’m sorry I am behind in entries – I am waiting for a programmer in France to give me a working vesrion of a slideshow maker. It has an addon to bulk load slides (otherwise it is one by one). However the addon is version 1.00, and doesn’t work properly. So I am waiting while he fixes it!
Ontakessan is a town within Ota. Each year it hosts a festival in the fall. The feature is a pair of portable shrines. The festival is in the street and the grounds of the local temple. Later in the evening the two shrines are carried around neighborhoods so housse-bound people can see them.
James drove me to his home town – Renshou – about 50 miles west of Che Nguyen. There I was honored with lunich in a private. Room. This time no lazy Susan, but a large hot pot built in to the c enter of the table. The main ingredient was a local delicious mushroom. In attendance were James’ grandparents – my age, his parents, and his brother, brother’s wife, and their 1 1/2 year old daughter. Wonderful people and wonderful meal.
We walked to James’ elementary school nearby. It is considered to be very good. 4,000 students, with classes of 40-50.
Stopped in a tea room where James and I did one round of Mah Jong, then opened the machine to see how it worked. Magic wirh magnetism!
Getting out of Zhenzhou was a big flap.
My old passport had the name Hugh Warren Stewart. I lost it, and ordered a new one. I did not notice that it had the name Hugh W Stewart.
I ordered tickets with the name Hugh Warren Stewart. Now the name on the ticket and that on my passport do not match.
Big problem. A security person went off with the passport and boarding pass, and after maybe 15 minutes returned and I was allowed to proceed.
I assume this problem will be repeated in Chengdu and Hohhot.
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province (think hot spicy food). It is also the home of China’s panda preserve, which Sharon and I visited in 2012. I am here to visit Qingzhi (James) Li, an SSU graduate in 2015. A tall, handsome man, James was known by almost every one on campus. Although he did not need homestays, he participated in many of the WISH activities, and having a car, would bring a carload of students. At graduation, he gave the commencement speech – it was excellent.
It is hot here, as it was in Zhengzhou, tho’ not quite as humid. The city is very big, and filled with very modern buildings.
James’ apartment is fabulous – it feels like a luxury hotel!
We had breakfast in a local shop where a man was hand making noodles I love to watch it.
Visited the Chengdu Museum in downtown. Marvelous early history of the region. There are many museums in Chengdu – we visited an archeological museum in 2012 that was terrific.
Attended a “Chinese Opera” – more like an old fashioned burlesque show. Several acts of singing, dancing, acrobatics, and a face changer. He was amazing – instantly changes his face. Great fun.
I am impressed by the quantity and quality of beautiful modern store, and hoards of shoppers on a Tuesday afternoon. We passed more brand names than I can recall. And in another category, there are Starbucks, KFC, McDonalds, and more fa,I liar names. KFC has local recipes – rwo years ago Yao and I ate KFC – pork I think – and it was far better than anything I ever had at KFC America!
Dinner in a private room with a friend from James’ home town. He’s a compter science grad student – asked well informed questions about American politics.
Most large restaurants in China have private rooms. The room generally has a large round table dominated by a large glass lazy Susan. A waiter or waitress remains in the room the whole time – in this case a pretty young woman who just fonisheed high school and will attend college for financial management. Didn’t think to get pictures. She was proud to show off her English skills.
These rooms are in liueu of entertaining at home – which is seldom doone because hpmes are too small and/or cooking is too demanding.
You can pick up a morsel directly from the seeving dish in front of you and eat it, or put a selection on your plate.
About six years ago I was looking for a Japanese tutor. Mt late friend Sally Allphin suggested I contact her sister in law Reiko. I did, and from then to now, we have met for one hour almost every week. I have learned a great deal of Japanese language and grammar – although with no one to use it with the other 167 hours, I do a lot of learning and forgetting!
Reiko ko is a very accomplished woman – she teaches special needs children in the public school system, teaches Japanese to young nisei children, writes a column for the Japanese Times – published in New York, makes jewelry and Nantucket lighthouse baskets, and more.
When Sharon passed, Reiko was a source of stability that was a very important part of my adjusting to a new life. Reiko’s husband lives near Tokyo, where he has a very good job as a lawyer, while Reiko lives hear in order to raise her son Kai – now 17. – in Ame Rica. Kai now attends Phillips Andover Academy – plays baseball seriously and is a good student.
For the past two years, Reiko and I have done many things together – eating in many different restaurant s, drinking, shopping, going places, seeing shows.
Today that phase of our lives came to an end as we said goodbye. We will continue to write and see each other. For her, it is a change in our friendship: for me it is also the end of a romantic dream.