Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Because of the tsunami?

The last couple of days we have cycled along the Pacific coast. The weather is fine, the forested mountains fall into the ocean, fishing villages clench themselves on the slopes and the road is clenched on the edge. Fantastic scenery.
everywhere where the coast faces the ocean there are enormous concrete walls and against them hundreds (thousands) of concrete shapes have been dumped in order to function as wave-brakers. So far for the romantic coastal scenery.
Of course the tsunami that hit the country some years ago came from this side. Is this the reaction of the Japanese coast protection authority on this catastrophe?
It's our guess. The concrete has not yet been overgrown with algae, so seem to have been dumped there quite recently.

Comfy and hygienic

Standard in most accommodations here. In the Netherlands still only in the houses of innovators. 
Warm seat, warm water sprays, adjustable to personal wishes. So clean, hygienic and comfortable. Especially for cyclists :-)

Small and quiet

It's a cliché, but in general the Japanese are small compared to north-west-Europeans. Small in almost everything, in length, in foot size, in steps when they walk, in space that they claim around themselves, in the movements they make, in noise that they make, in cars that they use and in living space. The population of this island empire (app.126 million)  is mostly concentrated in the coastal areas, where there are some flat spaces to build and live on. This is only a very small part of the country and for this reason they live very close to each other, often in very big cities. Consequently there is very little private space per capita available. So - still generally speaking - houses are small and in the house the rooms are small. And parking spaces for their cars are small. Now it's my observation that they are car-lovers. No wonder, they produce the best brands of cars in the world. Now some of you will start staggering and mumbling words like 'German' etc., but just check the statistics: Japanese cars prevail.
So what choice do car owners have when they belong to this generic type? Own a small car, it seems obvious. And small doesn't always mean small in capacity. Although you see all kinds of cars the number of compact space cars are great. These cars are 2.5 meters long, 1.5 meters wide and have the hight of a man. Like driving biscuit boxes. Suzuki even has a model namen N-box, so there's no beating around the bush here. Small boxes that can transport the whole Japanese family any place!

One more striking phenomenon here: it's quiet! Cars hardly make any noise as they drive quietly, you don't hear people shouting (there are not many people about), there's no loud music, no hassle. As far as we know Japan now we find it a pretty silent place. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

How to pray in a shinto-shrine

we walked through this typical Japanese arch onto the premises of what we soon learned was a shinto-shrine. Various wooden buildings with the beautiful bent tiled roofs, some with entrances behind a row of similar arches. Various people performing rituals. Among other stone statues there was also a "Manneke Pis". We looked at all this with interest, when a man addressed us. If we would be interested to know more about praying in a shrine like this, and before we had answered he assured us that it was no temple. His English was rather modest, but we learned a lot. The Shinto religion knows various gods, a bit similar to the Greek gods, we were told. These gods are like humans, they have their good and their less good qualities. They do not punish when a beleiver has done wrong. They will question the wrong-doer about his motif, not judge him. Quite contrary to most monotheist religions that the world knows. The man was very particular about how prayers should be done. He handed us over a scheme that is meant to make it clear to the foreigner (see photo). And indeed, as he performed the ritual for us, it became clear.
Not very difficult at all: check the note he gave us. Walk up to the shrine and donate a coin (very little amount) in the big bowl or stone jar, then pull the bell cord hard so that the bell strikes loudly, make 2 deep bows, clap your hands twice and loud, then say your prayer (= express your hopes), make one bow again, step backwards and leave. Done.
He had developed a formula as to make it easy for the novice: CB22P1, obvious after checking the note:

Friday, March 23, 2018

Is it a ball.....?

No....., it's a work of art by Anish Kapoor and at first sight, when you walk up to it, it looks like a huge ball. We saw it in the Museum of Asian Art in Fukuoka, Japan.
No ball, but a deep blue, 2 meters wide, round and hollow thing. We were impressed.

Right on time

for the first spring blossoms. We arrived at Fukuoka airport on a cold afternoon and in the evening we made a shivering walk to the park near our hotel. The next morning it was sunny and nice and in the park, the former location of a samurai castle, the first of the hundreds of japanese cherry trees were blossoming. Preparations are being made for the national mania here, picnicking and partying under the blossoming trees. It's obvious that the people here have a deep connection with this outing of spring, we notice it's in the air. Now this is only the beginning, we are looking forward to the next few weeks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

On the road again

Here we go again. Next week we'll fly to Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu, south Japan. There we intend to ride round the island and get a glimpse of the cherry blossoms before crossing by ferry to South-Korea, where we will make a round tour as well.
There will be regular blogs by myself and by Eveline (click in the right column) and the photos will be posted daily if possible (click in the right column).
Below the intended routes (roughly):