My wife and I visited Japan two times while our oldest daughter lived and worked in the country for five years. We went up, down, around and across the country, in and out of big cities, small cities, to islands, to tourist places, local bars, Mount Fuji and more. We struggled to learn how to use the toilets once we found them, how to catch the wrong and right trains and how to bow the correct amount for almost every occasion. It’s a wonder I didn’t see more signs for chiropractic help but, then again, how would I read them? Anyway, if you’re looking to experience a spaced out feeling while traveling but can’t afford a ticket on the ship to the moon, Japan might be your best option.

Liking sushi and/or soup (Miso, or the egg laden, Udon) is a plus when tramping Japan, but there’s so much more on the plate there. Of course, I can’t tell you what half of it was or is, but if you have a daughter like mine you might find yourself enjoying Saki while ordering a second helping what seemed a delicious casserole only to later find out it was composed of fried cow guts. Bon appetit, and enjoy the stronger Shochu if you like Saki…it will help you forget.

Okay, discount some of the eye-ball foods or still alive squid. Concentrate, instead, on the millions of types of shoes the Japanese wear or the clothes that range from traditional Kimonos, New York City tight, expensive high style to the ‘metal’ look. Notice the street signs….

They mean no peeing or pooping on the street….just a head’s up/

And enjoy the absence of fearing you’ll be mugged (Ain’t gonna happen in Japan…) There’s a beauty in the country that is mirrored in the people’s hearts. It’s a kind, obedient society that honors others as they honor themselves and their heritage.

Our daughter lived in Kitsuki, Japan, where she taught English to middle schoolers who were strictly forbidden to chew gum in school, that a ‘high crime.’ Imagine this: if a teacher is ever caught driving after drinking the entire staff and children of the school are punished! See? It’s all for one and one for all or things get stinky real fast. Japan rows together.

My daughter left her purse on a train station bench and those attendants got her purse back to her days later though she lived in another city. Of course, her items had not been touched.

Kelly lived in a bay comprised of three cities: Kitsuki; Beppu and Oita.

Our daughter lived in Kitsuki which is located approximately where the number '10' is on this map...

Our daughter lived in Kitsuki, Japan,  which is located approximately where the number ’10’ is on this map…Swinging south by train leads to Beppu and then to Oita.

The ‘hot’ fun really begins in Beppu.. The place is smokin’-literally. The city sits on top of 3000 hot, volcanic vents (Bring marshmallows)city

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We bundled in robes and laid down in hot, black beach sand and listened to the ocean lap the shore twenty feet away as the warming effect soothed our souls. The rest of the day’s 90 degree heat felt cool.

I think it was here in, Beppu,  that I had a massage that featured a gal who actually hopped on my back and walked a few miles. Warning: don’t do this more than a few times per day-that could get like, really addictive.

On to Oita. (say it fast three times to sound like a tweety bird.)

That's Monkey Mountain behind us

That’s Monkey Mountain behind us-Our daughter’s adopted, ‘Grand Parents” in Japan put us up in this swank ocean side hotel and taught us how to take Onsens (Japanese baths) and how to eat some of the food.

Monkey Mountain is a famous place near, Oita, Japan. It’s teaming with wild monkeys, but a visit to Monkey Mountain doesn’t start that way. No, it starts at the base of the 2000 foot high mountain where a quaint train station painted in bright primary colors nestles among a dense jungle greenery-not a monkey to be seen, only a few signs and attendants that understand English who direct people to the train. Of course, this is a jungle train, something you might expect in a Disney safari ride- open air, no glass windows, small cabs that slowly rattle along a twisting, mountain climbing train track.

We finally stopped at the ruins of an ancient temple that looked out over the vast ocean. Again, the ‘monkey mountain’ thing seemed hardly unique with nary one in sight but for a few, small, cute monkeys. I had to wonder why the signs said, “Do not look monkeys in the eye?”

Jus’ a few cute ones….

“What monkeys?” I had to ask. Then someone hit a huge gong.

The entire landscape that I’d mistaken for jungle turned out to be made of monkeys!!!!

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A few thousand monkeys…

Me as a monkey!

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“I’m not looking; I’m not looking; I’m not looking….” Not a time to play, Peek-a-boo.

All of this was hysterical-like my wife. Still, we survived but as much as I enjoyed this my wife says, ‘Never again,’ and she hardly appreciated the monkey beaded small change purse I’d secretly bought her while there-go figure!

Japan is a beautiful country for Americans to visit. Their society has  so much to teach us. For one: respect, respect for the land, ourselves and others. I grimace to realize how much we as American’s have missed as I count the cigarette butts in the beach sands of Florida. The world isn’t really our ash tray. But I digress…

Somehow, in the vast scheme of things Japan has realized as a country that they were as responsible for Hiroshima as the United States was, that World War is a ‘no one is innocent’ thing. “All are punished.”* The people here hold life dearly, and respect every step they take.

The beauty of Japan is truly unbelievable.

cheers

Franque23

*Shakespeare

 

 

 

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