A few of you may know me well enough to know it already, but for those of you who don't, I was scheduled to travel to Japan for three months this Summer. It was to be an incredible trip, with 6 weeks in Tokyo, 4 weeks in Kyoto, taking in Osaka and Okinawa too. During this time, I was to climb Mt. Fuji, to explore the temples of Kyoto, wander the old backstreets of Tokyo, and to meet the Ama women divers. I am in Crete right now, beginning to train in skin diving / free diving.
Just three weeks ago, we decided to postpone our trip, to stay within Europe for family reasons this year, rescheduling our arrangements for Summer 2012. Despite recent events in Japan, and the difficulties that this has caused our friends in Tokyo, we are looking forward very much indeed to heading out there next year. In the wake of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear concerns, Japan is going to need every little help she can get, in order to rebuild. Tourism will be an important aspect of this, and we are already very happy to be thinking of heading there next year.
Our guide and advisor for this visit was to be experienced guide and Tokyoite, Dustin Heerkens of TokyoID. If you are thinking of visiting Japan, in particular, Tokyo or Kyoto, any time, I can't recommend Dustin highly enough. He is relaxed, friendly, incredibly knowledgeable, and has a Japanese sensitivity and spiritual side. He, and Japan, are going to need your business.
For many years now, Japanese culture has been an important aspect of my own study, as I used to host an award winning blog [2003 - 2007], Blue Sky Studio, on the Japanese arts of haiku, calligraphy, wood block printmaking, and other cultural aspects, in particular, Zen Buddhism. It's where the roots lay for my current work online and in print. I myself studied and practiced these arts for a number of years, now happy to be fully focused on writing.
Originally inspired to visit Japan whilst I was a photographer, it was the history, the culture, the creativity and the culture of Japan that attracted me. I wanted to see new Japan, the bustle of Tokyo, then wander the old back streets, visit the characterful cafés that nestle there in the older parts of Tokyo and other towns. Kyoto too, for it's great temples. But most of all, to learn more about the people of Japan. I stand in awe of their civilised approach to life, and to the respect with which they treat one another.
As you may imagine, I have watched the events in Japan unfold with some dismay, but also an increased understanding, and respect for, the Japanese people. In fact, it has driven me to want to visit all the more. If you read my last journal entry, 'Beautiful imperfection', you may begin to get a clue why – I hope to be part of the gold that fills the cracks as a damaged Japan rebuilds.
Note: If you are a writer, you may be interested in contributing some Japan related material to the 'New Sun Rising', a publishing project from Books That Help, to raise funds to assist those in trouble in Japan. More info here.