Japan Trip 2010–Day 11


I was told that for economic reasons, the tour company was reducing the number of excursions provided, but after the overload of yesterday’s experiences I was happy to sit in our hotel room and  catch up on earlier journal entries. Jan went her own way to attend a Rotary meeting in a posh hotel nearby and reported about it upon returning in the late afternoon.

Japan 2010 Rotary meeting2.JPG

She was seated at a table with the past Rotary International Director and Grand Tea Master Genshitsu Sen, the only one who spoke English.  When she mentioned visiting with Kanosaku Nakagawa in Kanazawa, the host said they were best friends.

She urged me to get moving and visit the huge downtown market a few blocks away. After seven uninterrupted hours at the computer, I followed her shakily through an endless labyrinth of stalls


and shops offering everything from live fish in Styrofoam tanks to onsite handcrafted cutlery



to guns and camo garb American-style


to satin jackets embroidered with slogans like “Punk Drunkers¦Uncool is Cool.”


Intrigued at first, I was soon desperate to escape, but blocked by the surge of teenagers who descended upon the place after school let out and jammed the entrances to video arcades, boutiques, and junkfood establishments. Something there is about the scale, animation and seriousness of Japanese consumer culture that makes even the grossest American shopping mall seem austere. It was challenging to reconcile with the aesthetics of Zen and wabi.

The departure dinner for our tour group took place in a Gion restaurant specializing in Shabu-Shabu, a dinner ritual that involves swishing around prepared ingredients with chopsticks in a pot of boiling water set into the table.  Maya read us a satirical English poem of farewell to tour patrons and folded origami cranes for everyone.

In the hotel we posed for a final team picture.


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