Mount Fuji in the cold, crisp, clear air of February is a sight to behold. Seeing Mount Fuji was one of the highlights of John Lynham’s trip to Japan last month. John spoke about his trip to the Pattaya City Expats Club at their Sunday, March 1, meeting. He presented photos of his visits to Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in addition to photos of Mount Fuji. John is well-known in the PCEC for the organizing a Writing Group, which he started in March 2005, and which meets for fun imaginative writing whenever he’s in town.
John joked that he always had a “yen” to visit Japan. He said that the advantage of going in February is that the air is clear and there are comparatively few tourists. The disadvantages are that it’s cold and the many gardens for which Japan is well known are not in bloom. Further, that anyone planning to visit Japan in the cherry blossom season (end of March) or when the leaves change colour (November) need to plan ahead because these are peak tourist times.
John Lynham having recently visited Japan, shares his photos and experiences with his fellow Expats at the PCEC’s Sunday meeting.
John mentioned that he bought a rail pass here in Thailand for use in Japan and that this was a very cost-effective way to travel around the country. He also mentioned that these rail passes must be bought outside of Japan. Once in Japan, you exchange your receipt for the actual “pass.”
There are 35 million people living in the Greater Tokyo area. Among the areas and sights of Tokyo John visited were Shibuya, the shopping and entertainment district; Ginza, known for its high-end shops; the Tsukiji Fish Market; and the Kabuki-Za theatre, where traditional kabuki shows are performed.
John Lynham showed this photo he took of the Nanzen-ji temple in Kyoto, Japan, during his recent trip. Wikipedia mentions that one historical nickname for Kyoto is the City of Ten Thousand Shrines.
John also toured Senso-Ji, one of Tokyo’s most colourful and popular temples; the Meiji-Jingu shrine (where he saw a wedding procession); an outdoor soup kitchen; Akihabara, a suburb of Tokyo famous for its electronics and IT shops; and Shinjuku Kabukicho, an entertainment and red light district.
John also saw shops where people play pachinko, a noisy mechanical game that is the Japanese equivalent of a slot machine. He also talked about the pedestrian zebra crossings at busy intersections in Tokyo, where during each cycle of the traffic lights, all car traffic stops and pedestrians have a chance to cross the intersection in each direction, including diagonally.
During his presentation to the PCEC, John Lynham showed this picture and commented on this famed Kabuki Theater in Tokyo, Japan.
John took the bullet train to Kyoto, sometimes referred to as the city of ten thousand shrines. Highlights of John’s trip to Kyoto included the Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple; Kodaiji, a Zen Buddhist temple; and Shoren-in, a temple of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism. John was impressed with the minimalist design of the interior of the temple. He also visited Nanzen-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple which featured many buildings made entirely from traditional Japanese wood, and numerous other temples. While in Kyoto, John took a picture of two geisha girls being driven in a rickshaw type carriage. He also visited Nara, a town about 35 kilometers south of Kyoto, known for its wild deer and – you guessed it – more temples.
PCEC Board member Pat Koester calls on fellow club member Marjorie Blissett to come center stage for a special treat.
John spent a few days in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two cities that were devastated by the atomic bomb at the end of World War II, to “pay his respects” as he put it. He visited several memorials in each city. He also toured Dejima, an artificial island in Nagasaki formerly used by Dutch merchants.
After the presentation, MC Richard Silverberg brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and called on Roy Albiston to conduct the Open Forum, where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya.
For more information on the PCEC’s many activities, visit their website at www.pcecclub.org.
Marjorie looks on with surprise at the birthday cake prepared for her as Club Chairman Roy Albiston prepares to present her with a bouquet of flowers in honor of her 88th birthday. Marjorie is a long time member of the PCEC and served on its Governing Board from 2008 to 2010.