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Travel Report: Southern Japan

I visited Kyushu, the southern most Japanese island because it’s more rural, more traditional. I saw very few geijin (westerners) while I was there and few people spoke English. It’s amazing what you can do with a small vocabulary. I was looking for a little lake, for example, and said excuse me, small water where is it, with my arms making a big circle, and the rice farmers got it. (People say excuse me, suimasen, a lot, and also, hi—yes. People went out of their way to show me what I was looking for. My friend Mariko (a former student) and her 2 kids met me. She had a hotel rented with 3 beds (twins, everything is smaller in Japan, hotel rooms, cars, roads, people—I’m usually as tall as the men standing in trains, food packaging). The next day we rented a taxi and saw shrines and historical sites, including a reconstruction of a village that existed BC with sunken floors and thatched huts. We saw a shrine to what Mariko called a “man-god,” a brilliant poet and intellectual. Then to an onsen (hot springs) with baths that made your skin silky, and buffet dinner and breakfast. We ate a lot of seafood and yummy tofu, etc. We slept on futons, which the maids put out after clearing away the table where often dinner is served in other ryoken (Japanese inns). Efficient use of space. Everyone walks around in the comfortable kimonos that come with the room.

The next day we went to see a man who is like Uri Geller. Of course he bent spoons (I have one), but he also made cigarettes float around, put a knife through a bill without tearing it, changed the shape of plastic cigarette lighters, shrunk coins, predicted what cards would be drawn by an audience member, in what order. He took a Polaroid photo of a young woman with the intention of including the card she drew plus a childhood memory. I saw the card and a white dog near her face in the photo. She was amazed, said a dog that looked just like that bit her when she was a child. The guy gave a little lecture saying our thinking is conditioned and that we can expect unusual happenings.

Then we parted company and I took the train to Nagasaki. Didn’t have time or the guts to visit the bomb museum. I asked for a non-smoking room, but they don’t have that concept except in big hotels. People smoke in restaurants, bus drivers smoke in their empty buses, etc. my only complaint about Japan besides expenses. I took an all day bus ride across the island, stopping to see the active volcano Aso. We could see gas coming up and smell the sulpher but they wouldn’t let us go to the top and look in. The bus stopped at little goodie stores for tourists. They have sample boxes. Their treats are pickled veggies and fish, crisp flat bread with nuts, or sweets (gelatiny coated with powdered sugar, bready with fillings, not much chocolate. Drove through green mts, terraced rice fields, then to a pension in Yufinin. It had it’s own hot springs and served an incredible dinner with salmon sashimi, a small chef salad, corn soup, rice, something au gratin, mushrooms, shrimp with carrots and potato sticks, then yummy black sesame ice cream and a coconut cream. I rented a bike and stopped at shrines, visited the lake a bunch of times. Nice Tori shrine on the lake was very picturesque. A couple of people wanted to take my photo with them, maybe bec. I’m tall geijin?

On Thursday, bus to airport, fly to Tokyo, train to Yokahama, then to Fugisawa. Remember the old folk song about riding forever beneath the streets of Boston, he’s the man who will never return? I felt like that trying to get to Yokahama. I can ask for directions but don’t understand the answer. But I made it to Kaori’s house, had my beach walk and got organized for the workshops. Also did individual sessions, very powerful because they’re not accustomed to getting therapy, a lot happens. So much faster than talk therapy when I locate the issue without them having to talk about it, then use various tools to clear blocks.

Then off to Maui and the Big Island to do some more nitty gritty sessions and swim with spinner dolphins. Both times we kayaked out to the dolphins then snorkeled with them. So beautiful to see them swimming underneath you. I also took the ferry to Lanai to snorkel and see another island. It used to be all pineapple and now the economy is based on tourism. I walked through the two big resorts, one for their snorkeling and the other to see their orchid collection. The variety of colors of the tropical fish and the flowers is an awesome testament to the creativity of the universal intelligence.

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