“What’s it like now?”

After our trip, when I’ve mentioned to people that I’ve been in Japan recently, they often express surprise and curiosity. Since Americans tend to think of Japan as a very small country (which is true, speaking in relative terms of geography) and since the media was flooded with images of the destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami, perhaps it is easy to assume that the entire country is dealing with the catastrophe. This is untrue in some ways–in the ways that people are probably thinking–but true in other ways. read more

Photos of Gardens at Heian Jingu Shrine Posted

Yes, I’m still working my way through the photos I took in Kyoto. Real Life has been getting in the way of such things, but I just posted over 50 of the best photos I took during our stroll through the gardens at Heian Jingu Shrine. The shrine has a good deal of historical, cultural and spiritual significance, and it also happens to have spectacular gardens. We had visited them several years ago and were completely dazzled by the cascades of cherry blossoms. We returned this year and were not disappointed. Click here to see the set of photos on flickr. read more

Dinner with the Makinos

It’s a bit startling to notice that we’ve been back from Japan for over a week now. I’ve been busy with getting back into the swing of the businesses, catching up with yard work, herding the cats, etc. (Speaking of the cats: if you’re in Boulder and need a cat or dog sitter, ask me for the name of ours. She does an excellent job; our cats adore her.) I’ve been meaning to jot down a few retrospective notes about our trip.

On this trip to Japan we were honored to be invited to the home of our friends, Sid and Takako Makino. They live in Nishinomiya which is not far from Kobe (and, if you happen to be a baseball fan, the home city of the Hanshin Tigers). We took a shinkansen from Kyoto to Kobe; Sid met us there and we took a local train to Nishinomiya. Takako met us near the train station with their car and gave us a brief tour around the town, stopping at a couple of highlights, before driving to their house. Their home is mostly furnished in Western style although the sofa, nearby chairs and coffee table were lower than you’d likely find in a house in the US. read more