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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cherry blossoms, reconnections and return

It was literally with a jolt this morning, our last in Japan, that we awoke. We were supposed to wake up at 6am, but instead felt our thirteenth floor room shake determinedly as Osaka was jarred by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake at 5:30-5:40am. We were reminded again of just how fragile our existence is, after climbing the Umeda Sky supposed 'garden' observatory (minus a garden) the night before. The Japanese workers we spoke to as we boarded our bus (also early) were noticeably unnerved and we reflected on the fact that whilst we were flying out many people did not have the ability to do the same thing today. Later, we realised through the Internet this quake was the biggest one since the 1997 devastating Kobe earthquake.

Our two weeks in Japan were a time of reconnection to family (Hughes) and friends (Ecchan, Sonchan, Miyauchi's etc).  It was an intense family time, with Geordie/Lydia remembering what it is to share a room, the 'transitions' to stations/airports providing stresses and time challenges and many great highlights.  It was daunting to again reflect on the ravages of war in Nagasaki in particular and also Fukuoka (and to some extent at Osaka Castle). Cherry blossom and Spring provided an impressive postscript to our autumn Easter, and we did manage a pikunikku with R/D and kids.  Feasting at the largesse of our Shimanto city church friends was a definite highlight, as well as speaking with them as a family after 13 years away.  Reunited as well, were L and Ge who appeared connected with, via a shared history, albeit not directly remembered, the friends, babysitters and families of their infant hood.  When Chie-san brought out the ichigo-daifuku, L was transported back to her Japanese roots. 

In Kyoto a walk along the philosophers walk canal was beautiful, and Ginkakuji/Daitokuji were the two Zen temples we visited, or complex of shrines/temples in the case of Daitokuji.  Our night walk along Pontocho in Gion was interrupted by a silent 200 metre row of mourners in black attending a Buddhist ritual to pay funereal respect. 
G has been asked to connect in with two ex-Nakamura young men in Tokyo in September, and two of the young women from Nakamura are intending to look into working holidays in Melbourne so our connection with this community will go on. It was great to see Ks confidence with Japanese return so naturally especially after our immersion in Nakamura, and also the kids throughout the trip. 

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