Before we head off to Tokyo, one last photo from Atami, which I forgot to put into the first trip report. In the UK, all hotel rooms come with tea, coffee and the wherewithal to prepare them; in Germany, much to the horror of a stereotype-fulfilling Brit such as myself, they do not. In Japan, I was pleased to see, the situation is more like that in the UK, only, of course, the tea on offer is green, not black.
( View piccy )
Which segues, tangentially, into something I noticed during my time in Japan. When I went to South Africa, I was, in much of the country, in a small minority having white skin. I felt a sense of insecurity as a result, which might be summed up as 'my good treatment in this country is entirely dependent upon the favourable attitude of the ethnic majority' (leaving alone the fact I'm not sure there is an ethnic majority in South Africa). I expected to feel something similar in Japan, where the native word for non-Japanese, gaijin, carries, as I understand it, the same pejorative overtones as goy or gadje. To my surprise, I didn't feel any such insecurity (and indeed never heard the word gaijin during my time there, or at least not knowingly). I'm at a slight loss to explain this. Maybe it's because in the city where I grew up there were plenty of people of oriental and Hindustani ethnic origin, but few blacks, leaving me conditioned not to feel the former as exotic.
Although Japan, as I said beforehand, adopted western culture wholesale in the wake of the Meiji revolution, there were a number of people in traditional costume visible on the streets. Some of them were tourists, others, as our tour guides pointed out, were simply not knowledgeable enough to be wearing appropriate combinations of clothing, but some were. In particular, anyone serving in a temple or shrine in a religious role would invariably be wearing traditional clothing, along with servers in teahouses traditional enough to have a tea ceremony, and in our ryokan (on which more when I get to it).
And so, on to Tokyo. Tokyo is, as I discovered to my surprise, the largest city in the world, numbering forty million people. (I expected this to be somewhere in the Third World.) Maybe due to this, it didn't really seem to have one centre, but many.
Here's a few view from halfway up the Tokyo Skytree, which is the tallest building in the world, saving only the Burj Dubai:( Read more... )