Monthly Archives: August 2010

A post a day September

This is just a quick post.  I’ve decided to try making a post a day in September.  Picture of the week has continued without any break, so I want to see if I can do a post every day.  I want to try to focus on Japanese culture or something that I happened to see that day, or anything Japan-related.  I may do more than a post on some days, but I want to do at least one post every day.  Wish me luck!

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The kindness of strangers

Today, I went out walking around a couple of neighbourhoods in Fujisawa (this brings my total to 17 train station neighbourhoods finished).  The second neighbourhood was quick and easy to do, as there wasn’t much to see.  However, while I was walking around, I had a couple of very nice surprises.  Usually, while I walk around a neighbourhood, I’m quite focused on going to different places and taking pictures.  But this time, I encountered a few nice people.

First, I was taking out my notebook, writing down the name of the river that goes through the eastern part of Fujisawa, and an elderly man approached me.  He asked, “May I help you?” in English.  He must have thought I was lost.  I thanked him for his kindness, but told him that I was okay.  That put me in a good mood.

A little while later, I was walking from a park, and I noticed that someone was spraying water from a hose onto the street.  It surprised me, as I was pretty close.  It turned out an elderly lady was washing something outside her house, and she didn’t see me walking down the street.  Once she saw me, she started laughing and gave me a very kind smile.  I laughed, too, sharing a funny incident with her.  It was very hot, so the water would have actually felt good.  However, it would have damaged my camera, so I’m glad I didn’t get wet.  But no harm done, and we had a good laugh.

This is a big contrast to what happened 2 weeks ago.  As I walk through the neighbourhoods, I often meet people on the street.  They usually act indifferently, and don’t pay much attention.  However, I also encounter kind people who smile at me (usually at temples, and usually elderly), as well as the people who openly stare at me.  I think the latter are people who are quite surprised to see a foreigner walking around with a camera in a quiet neighbourhood.  What kind of tourist walks around a residential street?  They probably rarely or never see people like that.  I really need to study Japanese hard, because I would like to be able to speak with some people that I happen to meet.

On the other hand, while I’m hiking on hiking trails or on mountains, nearly everyone smiles.  We’re sharing the same experience.  On Oyama last year, so many people said “konnichiwa” or even “hello” in English.  But walking around a neighbourhood is different, as everyone has their own purpose and destination.  There’s no common experience.  But sometimes, I can encounter a kind stranger.

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Inspired to walk in Japan

It’s been a year since I started walking around neighbourhoods near train stations, and I’ve completed 15 stations for my Japan by Train series.  That’s a bit more than one station per month.  Each time, I’ll walk around 10 km, exploring the neighbourhood and taking pictures of anything significant (temples, shrines, major shopping areas, street views, train stations, and more).  I have yet to post my first tour, which I did a year ago!  I want to get to work on that.

These 10 km walks have been very interesting, but at the end of April this year, I walked from my apartment in Kamakura to the island of Jogashima in Miura City, which is about 35 km away.  That took me 8 hours to complete, and was a great experience.  I was sore for a couple of days, but I wanted more.  I’ve also hiked up 3 mountains (Fuji 5 years ago, Takao-san 2 years ago and Oyama last year).  When the weather gets cooler, I want to make 2 more challenges.  First is to walk from Kamakura to the town of Oiso, which is about 20 km to the west.  For this walk, I’ll follow the coastline.  The second challenge is to walk the entire route of the Yamanote Line in Tokyo.  This is about the same length as my Kamakura-Jogashima walk.  I’d be walking in a circle around the central part of Tokyo.

You may want to ask why I want to do this.   Well, there are a few reasons.  I like to explore new places, of course.  Also, it’s good exercise.  But the big thing is I love the challenge.  I’ve also been inspired by a New Zealander who’s walked both the Tokaido and Nakasendo (from Kyoto to Tokyo).  His blog is called The walking fool.  It’s a fascinating read, actually.  His Nakasendo walk starts at this blog post, and his Tokaido walk starts at this post.  Yes, both blog posts start in New Zealand, but they’re relevant.  Now, I don’t plan on doing the same thing he does, but I want to take smaller walks that take only a few hours.

Some other possibilities I’ve been considering are walking from around Kanazawa-Hakkei Station in Yokohama down to Miurakaigan station in Miura City (this would be the eastern side of Miura peninsula), as well as walking from Ofuna to Yokohama station, following the Tokaido Line.  Any other suggestions?

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Picture of the Week 16 – Tokaido Line Train Not Crowded!

This is a not very crowded Tokaido Line train from the inside. This is an older train, so it doesn’t look very modern. Most trains on this line are much newer. I had to stand, as there were no available seats. There was a very drunk man across from me who had a lot of trouble standing up.

Tokaido Line train

Plenty of people sitting, but it's not crowded.

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Picture of the Week 15 – Sesame Street Graffiti

In Japan, you can sometimes find graffiti. It’s not as common as in Canada, though. Japan is a very clean place, and people in the community work to clean up their neighbourhoods. But sometimes, you can find graffiti, which is hard to clean. Here is an example of graffiti, which actually seems a bit silly and kind of funny.

Elmo graffiti

I would really be worried if someone wrote Big Bird or Cookie Monster.

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Another milestone

More than a year after I started this blog, I have now had my 10,000th hit.  That happened today.  Also, July was my busiest month ever, being my second month with m0re than 1000 hits.  I wonder how long until the 20,000th hit.

Thanks to everyone who’s been reading this blog!  I hope you’ll enjoy it even more in the future.

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