Alone and Homeless in Tokyo

Even though I had no language skills and in spite of an acute sense of terror, I plunged into Tokyo with bravado, determined to find my way around and make a success of my solo, 33-day adventure in Japan.

Ameyoko by Ghost of Kuji. Creative Commons Licence.

Ameyoko by Ghost of Kuji. Creative Commons Licence.

Unable to communicate in my usual manner, I was alone in my head all the time. (Sometimes that was a more terrifying place than the city.) I vividly recall feeling alien, and adrift—as if I were an insignificant insect who belonged nowhere crawling along the city’s sidewalks.

Click here to read more about my first morning in Tokyo.

To celebrate five years of blogging, this post links to previous content from The Way of Words.Your comments are always appreciated.

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Why Japan?

People often ask me: Why Japan? What’s so special about Japan that I return again and again?

Miyajima Torii

Miyajima Torii

The best answer I have for that is one given by a Japanese woman born in Saudi Arabia whom I met while visiting Kanazawa.  Though she is well traveled and a “global” woman in every sense, her magnetic connection is Spain. When I asked why Spain, she answered: How do you explain falling in love?

Exactly. The fact is you can’t. Words don’t touch the ineffable rapture and euphoria. The 12th century waka poet and Buddhist priest more commonly known as Saigyo wrote: I don’t know what resides here, but tears fall in appreciation for it. なにごとのおはしますかは知らねども かたじけなさに涙こぼるる Click here to read more of what captivates me.

To celebrate five years of blogging, this post links to previous content from The Way of Words.Your comments are always appreciated.

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A Word for Leonard Cohen

leonard-cohen

Photo used in accordance with Restrictions on Use of Materials. © 2012 Channel Zero Inc. All rights reserved.

 

There’s a blaze of light
In every word…

From “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

 

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Tourist or Traveler: Which are You?

A great deal of self-identity and judgment from others is related to what we do. Travel is no exception.  Suddenly, we belong to that tribe which embarks and disembarks along with us. Like them, we drag suitcases or packs around on one form of transport after another.

Photo Credit to AP/Nam Y. Huh, File

Photo Credit to AP/Nam Y. Huh, File

We wait in lines to get documents stamped or buy tickets, search for places to eat and sleep, attend meetings or visit local sites. Then, we do it all again at the next venue.

So what are we now? Are we tourists or travelers? Does the distinction matter? What do you think? Click to read more.

To celebrate five years of blogging, this post links to previous content from The Way of Words.

Your comments are always appreciated.

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Happy Anniversary: Five years at the Way of Words

Oh! What hours of transport we shall spend! And when we do return, it shall not be like other travelers, without being able to give one accurate idea of anything. We will know where we have gone—we will recollect what we have seen. … Let our first effusions be less insupportable than those of the generality of travelers.

From Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Everyman © 1996, p 116.

Still from the six-episode 1995 BBC drama Pride and Prejudice, adapted by Andrew Davies

Still from the six-episode 1995 BBC drama Pride and Prejudice, adapted by Andrew Davies

Always good for a rim-shot when it comes to social critique and as relevant today as then, Jane Austen understood all too well that travel stories must lack reserve. According to her, the trick is to be less intolerable and vague in the telling.

As I now look back on 5 years of vignettes focused on my journeys through Japan and various other digressions along the way, I hope that my stories might indeed be less insupportable and steer clear of generality. (What glorious words—used much less in the 21st century than in the 18th and 19th. Sadly, and with great disservice to a venerable language, modern proponents of plain language are not fond of words that stray into syllable counts which number higher than three. But I digress.)

Starting next week, to celebrate this significant anniversary (some 215 blog posts) I will sift through the archive and reprise some of my favourites .

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Nai tokoro: the not state or place

As I turned the calendar to a new month a few days ago, it occurred to me that had anyone told me five months back that I would move to Victoria before the year was out; I would have considered it a joke of the day. April Fool! Continue reading

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India Independence Day

Yesterday was India’s Independence Day. Continue reading

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Disposing of My Mother’s Things

Frog Boxes

Removing the contents of my mother’s home, handling all her mementos and treasures has proven a problematic, even excruciating task. For one, I’d been after her to do some of it—at least the non-treasure stuff—for years. How many plastic yoghurt containers do you need to keep at any one time, Mother? Apparently, many. Continue reading

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A Little Break

Following the recent and unexpected death of my mother and all the upheaval that means for a family, I have decided to officially take a break from posting. That doesn’t mean I won’t create posts, but the 7-10 day regularity that I like to observe can’t be counted on. Just so you know. Continue reading

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Irene Sarah (Wedel) Philippsen 1928-2016

You know you are not in a good place when you’ve got the undertaker on speed dial. Continue reading

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