Two Weeks in Japan with the Yale AYA

Journal by Cindy Hummel (with some informational text added from Wikipedia, etc.)

Saturday, June 27

We were up at 4:00 AM, left for the airport at 4:30. All of the flights were on time (BIL-DEN-SFO-Tokyo). In less than 24 hours we were at the Tokyo airport, Narita, around 2:30 PM, Sunday afternoon. After we picked up our bags and walked out into the arrival area, we saw the ticket counter for the bus into Tokyo, and actually right to our hotel. This side cost $30 per person, versus $200 for a taxi!! Dave spotted a Yalie couple waiting for the same bus.

During the trip into the city it was raining hard with the temperature in the low 70’s. Everywhere it was clean, modern, sleek. The cars here drive on the left, like in England, Hong Kong, Australia and India, for example. At around 5:00 PM we arrived at our hotel downtown, the Royal Park Shiodome Tower, a lovely, modern, sleek building. The lobby is on the 24th floor and our room on the 32nd with a view out to modern high-rise buildings and canals. The plan called for us to meet up with the whole group at 8:00 PM for dinner, but as soon as I was dressed and downstairs, I could tell I wasn’t in the mood to be chatty and pleasant, so I headed back to the room, ate two of the hard-boiled eggs that I had brought from home, hopped into bed and called it a long day. Dave went to dinner with the group and ate with his old Hopkins and Yale classmate, Dan Koenigsberg, who is part of this group.

The restaurant, on the top floor of a tall building, had a great view of the city lights.  It was  multi-course Japanese dinner and Dave got started on using chopsticks.

Monday, June 29th

After an early breakfast we both headed to an 8:00 AM meeting to discuss the process of teaching Japanese alumni how to inspire fellow classmates to donate time and money to their alma mater. Apparently 80% of gifting here comes from corporations, whereas 80% in the US comes from individuals. It is difficult for Japanese to ask individuals for money. Our culture on the other hand encourages people to “give back”. (Think of JFK’s speech).

When the meeting was over the Yalies left for their morning session with university people at the excellent conference facilities in Tokyo University.  This involved presentations on alumni associations and development, followed by workshops in small groups. Meanwhile, the rest of us were met by Azby Brown, an American architecture professor, author, Yale and Todai-Tokyo University alum, who is based in Tokyo. He has authored several books and is one of the foremost experts on the modern architecture of Tokyo.  With him we explored some of the more unique spots around the popular and modern Harajuku area of Tokyo. Since we were on foot, it was possible to watch the locals coming and going. Apparently black and white, also the multi-layered-look is in style for the women. I had such fun trying to take pictures of examples of this fashion without attracting attention. Noticeable also was how quietly and disciplined the people drive, and how clean everything is, even the windows. The buildings that Azby pointed out often housed very high level, international fashion stores, like Dior.

For lunch, our local guide Eva selected a restaurant with a variety of offerings, including hamburgers, pizzas and salads. At the entrance to many eating establishments there are mockup plates of the menu, which makes food selection much easier, because of the language barrier. The prices ranged from $5 to $15, which didn’t seem out of line for a major world city.

After lunch all of our group congregated at the Meiji Shrine, built in memory of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, under whose rule Japan ended its long isolation from the outside world. Unfortunately, like much else in Tokyo, the shrine was destroyed in WWII bombing. Rebuilding was completed in 1958. Apparently many of Japan’s postwar reconstructions are not like the original, but this shrine is totally authentic. It is located in a forest that covers 175 acres, a wonderful quiet, green area, so different from the tightly built hard surfaces of the city. The shrine itself has two major areas: the inner and outer parts. We were totally privileged to be invited into the Inner Sanctum where we watched a Tokubestsu Sanpai Shinto Ceremony followed by an ancient Kagura shrine dance and music performance. On the way out we were given small saucers of purified sake. Only afterwards did I realize how unique this event was, when the local Japanese said they had never been into the Inner Sanctum, as this is reserved only for very special dignitaries. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but I did snap a few of the garden and the buildings.

Around 4:00 PM we arrived at Kokugaku-in University, where we toured their museum. On a quick detour to the women’s restroom, I began chatting with one of our local Japanese guides, a most attractive woman, probably in her mid-twenties. She represents Japan in remote African countries such as Tchad and Niger.  We discussed life and the working world for Japanese women. She seemed very bright, communicative, fashionable, and didn’t feel being a Japanese woman made her any less capable than men. She hopes in the near future to continue her education at Yale or Harvard!

From the Kokugaku-in University Museum we drove in our four small busses to Todai University for a welcome dinner. There must have been 100 people present, half Japanese and half American. As we entered the large reception area, we were offered white or red wine, orange juice, beer, or water. About half an hour later the huge buffet was opened. There was a large selection of very nicely prepared finger food, also fortunately there were also forks (and chopsticks) available. I never have gotten very good with the latter, but can use them if that is the only utensil available. Dave and I met a very nice Japanese guest who, before he retired, was a high level manager for Mitsubishi Motors in the US, Canada, Germany, Holland and Iran. He had lived for about ten years total in the US and Canada, so spoke English extremely well. He even did quite well with his German. I’m always impressed with these businessmen and women, who live and work around the world, manage to learn languages so different from their own. We discussed how his children and wife immersed themselves into the different cultures, then returned home again.
By the time the speeches had been made, the gifts exchanged, it was 8:30. I had a nap on the bus, and fell into bed shortly after 9:30.  Maybe keeping us on the go all day made it possible to sleep better once we were in a horizontal position.

Tuesday, June 30th

Right after breakfast at 8:00 AM there was a group meeting with instructions for the day. The Yalies left to begin their sessions with the Alumni Leadership Workshops at the University of Tokyo while another group of us boarded a bus for the Edo-Tokyo Museum. It was founded in 1993 and is a perfect place to learn about Tokyo’s culture and history from the last 400 years. The exhibits were really first rate, with lots of space, great three-dimensional displays in all sizes and examples of life, work, art, and clothing for people of different social rank over the past centuries. From our guide, Eva, we learned that US Commodore Perry arrived on Japan’s shores in 1853. He requested from the Shogun government that ports here be opened to refuel ships. This was the beginning of the end of the isolationist policies in Japan. Historically the social business strata were Samurai on top, followed by the farmers, then the craftsmen, and on the bottom were the merchants.

Following the visit to the Edo-Tokyo Museum we drove to the Asakusa kannon and Senso-ji Temples, Tokyo’s oldest, located in one of the oldest parts of the city. The building is under renovation, so covered with scaffolding, but it was possible to take pictures of some of the inner structures and watch the locals performing their ritual offerings and saying prayers.

Right next to this area is Nakamise-dori, the temple precinct’s shopping street, where everything from tourist trinkets to genuine Edo-style crafts is sold. This area was filled with local people, was colorful, clean, and would have been fun to explore. However, we had to eat in 30 minutes, then board the busses and head to another meeting. Fortunately, Eva did aim us toward a nice local noodle shop, where we each ordered a meal by looking at the pictures in the window at the entrance to the restaurant. Inside it was comfortably air-conditioned and smelled enticingly of food. Some in our group went to a sushi bar a couple of shops away where they selected food from a conveyor belt. We were all quite satisfied with our choices for lunch, just sorry that we didn’t have time to explore the shopping street.

While Cindy was touring, Dave was moderating a group discussion about alumni relations at the Tokyo University conference center. It was a slow process since all comments had to be translated in both directions. Most of the Japanese spoke English but the translation was needed for the few who did not.  Needless to say, none of us spoke Japanese.

From 2:00 – 4:00 PM all of our group was entertained by a special demonstration by the Nihon University Sumo Wrestling Team. The group of about 30 student-wrestlers went through their warm-up routine, then had a few exhibition matches for us.

Following the sumo demonstration we drove to Waseda University for a tour of the campus, drinks and dinner at a neighboring hotel. Preceding the tour was an introduction to the details of this private and prestigious institution. The two highest ranked nationally funded universities are Tokyo and Kyoto, while Waseda is ranked as the best private institution. It has over 53,000 students, 45,000 of whom are undergraduate and 8,000 at the graduate level. There are 2,000 faculty, 1000 administrators, 13 undergraduate schools, and 17 graduate schools. It was founded in 1882 with three goals: independent learning, practical use of knowledge, and promotion of good citizenship. It has produced over 500,000 alumni, 6 prime ministers, and numerous CEOs of leading global companies. There are currently over 3,000 international students from 91 countries, 11 degree programs in English and exchanges with 619 colleges.

After drinks in a large hall overlooking a park with 5 women playing Mozart on stringed instruments, we were invited to the large and lovely restaurant with crystal chandeliers, perfectly ironed table linens, and seating for 8 at each table with name cards. Japanese guests were alternated with Americans. The invited locals were obviously highly educated, English speaking and very successful business men, educators or politicians. They always want to share business cards.  We were prepared as Yale had provided us with cards in English and Japanese.  The man sitting between Dave and me was the assistant to the president of Waseda University, while the man to the right of me had been an international business executive who had lived with his wife and two daughters in a suburb of New York City for about ten years. He said it was important to him and his wife that their children attended local public elementary schools while in the US, and, as a result, his wife befriended numerous other mothers, learning more about American family culture than he did. After some introductions by the president of Waseda University as well as Yale representatives, we were all given a splash of champagne to make a toast to the success of the alumni efforts here in Japan. Then a large and beautiful buffet was opened. There were various fish salads, Japanese hot and cold food, rice, spring rolls and other tasty treats. It was easy to return for more. Toward the end of the meal more speeches were given, also gifts from both sides were exchanged. By about 9:00 PM we were on the busses, heading back to the hotel, which we reached about an hour later. There still had been no time to write my journals or even relax and read for a few minutes.

Wednesday, July 1st

We had to be up for a 7:45 AM meeting, but fortunately Dave took over that duty so I could begin my journal and work on it until Ari arrived at 9:30. It was hugely important to me to jot down impressions and facts before they passed in a blur of new experiences. Ari is a lovely young Japanese lady who was an exchange student in my class at West High about 20 years ago. We have remained in touch ever since, much to both of our pleasures. When Dave and I knew that we would be coming to Japan with the Yale group, I wrote, asking if she would like to connect with us. With quick back and forth e-mailing we selected a day and destination that was agreeable to all of us, and today was the day dedicated to enjoy our reunion.

Ari arrived at our hotel at 9:30 and we quickly headed across the street to the train and subway station. This is a totally modern facility, like a modern shopping center with all kinds of stores on many levels. What impressed me was how clean, quiet, and pleasant it was, with well-dressed people of all ages and stages, including school kids in uniforms, heading in their different directions. The train trip out to the city of Kamakura took about an hour. Midmorning the train was relatively empty, making it easy to talk with Ari and catch up on each other’s lives.

Here is what the Lonely Planet has to say about Kamakura. It was the capital of Japan from 1185 to 1333 and is one of the most culturally rewarding day trips from Tokyo. There are an enormous number of Buddhist temples and the occasional Shinto shrine that dot the countryside.

From the train station we walked along a narrow street with many shops on each side selling clothing, books, flowers, and food. There was even a Baskin and Robbins ice cream store as well as a McDonald’s. I especially like to watch the locals as they check out the merchandise in the stores. Numerous school kids were on field trips, learning about the history of their country and enjoying time off from the usual school routine.

After leaving the shopping street we walked a bit further down the road to Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu, the main Shinto shrine of Kamakura. It was founded by the same clan that ruled Japan from this area. This shrine has long paths, broad vistas and lotus ponds and is quite different from the temples clustered around the area.

After boarding a bus we drove for perhaps ten minutes to our second stop, the Hokokuji Temple which is Zen Buddhist. The quiet, landscaped gardens were most inviting and we were able to relax and enjoy a cup of Japanese green tea while I took pictures of the huge blue hydrangeas, the velvety moss and thick stands of extremely tall bamboo trees. We were most fortunate with the weather, as it could have rained the whole day, but didn’t.

From the gardens we took a bus back to the area near the train station, collected some cash from an ATM machine, then returned to the charming shopping area where Ari found a small, intimate Japanese restaurant for lunch. All three of us selected different versions of a tempura dish with rice. Here in Japan it seems to be the custom, as it is in the US, to offer cold water with the meal at no extra charge. Along with tempura dishes was delicious shredded radish salad, some pickles and soup. As we arrived in the restaurant there was one other guest, but he left and we were the only customers for the rest of our meal. We sat at the only table, which was a booth for four. The rest of the approximately ten stools were placed around the counter.

Following lunch we caught a bus and drove to the last attraction of the day, Kamakura Daibutsu. Completed in 1252, it is Japan’s second-largest Buddha image and Kamakura’s most famous sight. It was once housed in a huge hall, but today the statue sits in the open, the hall having been washed away by a tsunami in 1495. Cast in bronze and weighing close to 850 tons, the statue is 11.4m or just under 50 feet tall.

After returning by bus to the train station, we enjoyed a Baskin and Robbins ice cream cone, then boarded the train for the hour trip back to Tokyo. This was a very special day, completed by sharing some small gifts that I had brought from Billings.

Ari had to return home shortly after 5:00 PM. After saying our good-byes, Dave and I worked on rearranging our suitcases for the next two nights. We can only take small backpacks, so the large bag has to be ready for pickup at 9:30 tonight. Departure is tomorrow morning at 5:00 AM for the fish market and then we continue via train to our next destination.

While we spent the day with Ari, the Yale group visited the national Diet (Senate) and Waseda University.

Thursday, July 2

We were up shortly after 4:00 AM so as to meet in the lobby and head off to the 70-year-old Tsukiji Fish Market at 5:00. This is where all of the seafood comes after it has been fished out of the sea and before it turns up on plates around the city. The day begins very early, with the arrival of the catch and its wholesale auctioning. As we were driving to the market, our guide, Eva, gave us some statistics. 2600 tons and 450 different kinds of fish per day are processed here by 18,000 employees. A tuna of 300 kilos (about 600 lbs.) can cost from $25-70 per kilo, which means that $21,000 can be paid for one top tuna fish. The area where the market is located will be closed, because this is prime real estate that the government wants to have available if Tokyo is selected for the 2016 Olympic games. Another site has already been chosen where the fish market will be relocated.

After a quick breakfast, at either McDonald’s or a sushi bar, we headed to the main train station for our ride on the Bullet Train or shinkansen, which are the fastest and best-known train services in Japan. They reach speeds of up to 300 km/h (188 mph) and some experimental models have gone significantly faster. In addition to being incredibly fast, they are also incredibly safe. In more than over 40 years of operation, there has never been a fatality. The service efficiency starts even before you board the train. Your ticket indicates your car and seat number and platform signs show where you should stand for that car. The train pulls in precisely to the scheduled minute and the car door you want is right beside where you are standing. The first stretch of track was built in 1964 when the Olympics were held here. Now there are 800 km (500 miles) of track. The average speed is 155 mph. The train is totally computerized, with the center of operations in Tokyo. Instructions to the trains are sent via satellite out to the trains as they speed around the country. We were told the train only stops for a total of one minute at each station, so there was a hurried effort to get all 50-plus of us boarded after the departing passengers had disembarked.

Our trip began shortly after 8:00 AM, mainly in a westerly direction with stops at Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, and Okayama.  One hour before getting off, lunches were delivered by a caterer who was waiting right by our car on the platform. I just marvel at the orchestration of all of the details to keep our trip running smoothly. The lunches were in large (12″x18″ = 30x45cm) flat boxes and there were also two larger cartons with drinks in plastic bottles. All of this had to be handed to members of our group who were on the train in the one minute that the train stopped.
The lunch was an artistic and culinary marvel, not just a sandwich slapped together with two pieces of soft white bread. As you can see in the picture, there were at least 20 different tasty morsels, all beautifully presented, easy to identify and tasty.

At 11:30 we disembarked and were loaded onto two busses that were very cramped, but for a reason. Our destination was an old, restored home up a long, steep and very narrow road in the mountains about four hours south on the island of Shikoku.

Eva mentioned that Japan, the size of California, has 15% arable land and 85% mountains.

At 1:00 our busses stopped for half an hour at a beautiful rest area. The toilets, like everywhere else, were modern, clean (see picture). There were two so-called “Western” toilets (with seats) and two “squat” variety. I love the tiny baby-seats (picture) where the mother can put her baby while using the facilities. There was also a miniature toilet for little kids. Every eventuality of need had been thought of.

Most of us took advantage of the ice cream store. I bought a scoop of mango sherbet, which cost about $2.75.

Back on the busses, it was easy to imagine as we drove across a huge bridge spanning the inland sea to Shikoku that the many islands were extinct volcanoes. Every surface is covered with very lush vegetation. The topography reminded me a lot of Hawaii. In the flatter areas rice was growing in fields flooded with water. The rice plants are raised in hot houses. When they reach a size of 10 cm/ 4″ they are moved to the fields. One week in June is a national holiday dedicated to planting rice. Families come together to help. Apparently rice is about the only food that doesn’t have to be imported.

Another couple of hours down the road we stopped at a large local inn for a talk about tourism in Japan by Alex Kerr, a Yalie with amazing credentials, who has lived off and on in Japan since his father was stationed here in the service. Apparently tourism is a very underdeveloped industry in Japan. More people visit Croatia annually than Japan. The national thinking here is that “rich countries make things, while poor ones entertain tourists”. Tourism is now the largest industry in the world and Japan is missing out. What they have spent HUGE sums on money on, is enormous building projects such as dams, highways, modern buildings. They don’t believe in low impact. However Japan is the only first world country that hasn’t buried its power lines. They hang like spaghetti everywhere. There are also large billboards that detract from the scenery. Even the sewer systems haven’t been modernized and on several occasions in Tokyo the sewer smell was very obvious. There is little zoning, so no unified cityscape. In the slideshow, Alex showed us pictures demonstrating how there are few landscapes without large concrete structures, and almost no old homes or buildings reflecting historic architecture.

Mr. Kerr has now taken on a new challenge on the Island of Nozaki in western Japan, off the coast of Nagasaki. The island of Nozaki has been abandoned in recent years because there was no way to make a living. Currently there are a variety of empty buildings and homes in the original architectural style which Mr. Kerr’s group is restoring into lodging for families, hikers, and also foreign tourists. He hopes to create something to fit the needs and budget of visitors, which will be attractive as a place to relax and get away from the stress and crowding of everyday life.

After the lecture we drove way up into the mountains. This is what the Lonely Planet had to say about the home we were going to visit and the effort to restore historic buildings in the area:

“High on a mountainside in the remote Iya Valley, looking out over forested hillsides and lunging gorges, is one of Japan’s most unusual places to visit. Chiiori – ‘The Cottage of the Flute’ – is a once-abandoned 18th-century thatched-roof farmhouse that has been painstakingly restored towards its original brilliance. Unlike many such examples of cultural heritage in Japan, where concrete and plastic have wrecked the architectural aesthetic, here glistening red-pine floorboards surround open-floor hearths under soaring rafters. And best of all, it is a living, working building that welcomes both guests and volunteers.

Until the 1970’s, residents of Iya preserved a way of life untainted by the effects of modernity. Set amid steep hillsides dotted by thatched houses and forests strewn with narrow mountain paths, Iya was an example of an untouched coexistence of man and nature, albeit one that offered residents little hope of wealth and comfort. In recent decades, however, the locals’ traditional lifestyle and the balance with the environment has been rapidly upset; employment moved from agriculture to government-subsidized and frequently pointless construction, the effects of which (like paved riverbeds) can be seen from almost any roadside.

Part of the project’s mission has been working with residents to promote sustainable, community-based tourism and realize the financial potential of traditional life – which until recently many locals saw as backward and valueless. It is a work in progress – many thatched roofs in the area are still hidden by corrugated tin sheets – but by adding to the growing numbers of tourists visiting the area, largely because of the work of those involved in Chiiori, visiting here helps to encourage those conservation efforts.

Perhaps ironically given the Japanese tendency towards national pride, this place is the fruit of the work of two Americans. The house was bought as a ruin by the author Alex Kerr in the early 1970s, and he went on to romanticize the Iya Valley – and Chiiori – in his award-winning book Lost Japan.    Travel writer and photographer Mason Florence bought a half-share in the house in 1997, and managed the project until the middle of 2007. To learn more about the project go to www.chiiori.org.”

Needless to say, I wandered around the site, and took pictures inside and outside of the house, which is perched on a very steep hillside. There were many alcoholic drink choices and appetizers. Also, our kudos to the bus driver who negotiated the extremely narrow, windy one-lane road uphill and down on curves that had no guardrails.

Back down the hill around 7:30, we checked into our room at a totally Japanese hotel. The beds are on mats on the floor, and there are sliding doors to separate the entrance/bathroom from the sleeping area from the part facing the street which has two “normal” chairs. You’ll have to see the pictures to understand the layout.

We were given bathrobe-like garments which were comfortable and attractive, in which we headed to dinner. This was served in a large dining room and unfortunately I didn’t take my camera, because this was like a movie set. Each person had a table about 2ft. (60cm) square and 1ft. (30cm) tall under which s/he slid both legs, then sat on a chair with no legs. The Japanese fold their legs underneath themselves, but this is apparently comfortable only for those who have practiced the position their whole lives.

On the tables were at least 20 different food items, which, to me, were unrecognizable, but absolutely BEAUTIFULLY presented. After the long day, fatigue took its toll, along with the overwhelmingly different eating selections and routine. I drank a little beer and headed back to the room, in bed by 9:30.

When I first lay down on my bed, I could see that it would be a long night if I couldn’t add some padding, first by increasing the mattress depth and secondly by finding a different pillow, since the ones on the bed felt like they were filled with rice. Fortunately in the large closet there were more mattresses, so I slid a second one under mine for one fix. Then I located more comforters, folded one into fourths for a pillow, and it worked perfectly. Before turning out the lights I turned on our new “white noise” machine and went to sleep listening to a background of waves hitting the sand. This was definitely a long day, filled with new impressions and information. What makes it easy is the terrific organization by our group’s leaders, the hospitality of the Japanese, and the efficiency and cleanliness of every operation, from food service to the public facilities.

While Cindy enjoyed her early bedtime, Dave tried the onsen, the natural hot spring pool high on the hill above the hotel.  It was accessed by a train-elevator through the flowering gardens.  There are separate pools for men and women, so are used in the nude. It was a great way to relax before bedtime.

Friday, July 3

Today was wonderfully relaxed.  Dave again headed up the hill to the hot spring and I woke up slowly, began working on my journal before breakfast. Around 8:00 we headed downstairs in this typically Japanese inn. Upon entering the dining hall I knew this was a new experience. The rectangular tables were about 6 inches – 15 cm high, were set to seat four, but on the floor. At each place setting were square pillows. Dave and I tried to lower ourselves to a position so we could sit on the floor, but there was no way that we could sit facing the table. Fortunately a waitress noticed our dilemma and brought short stools, which made it possible to sit facing the table and hold the bowls of food in our hands while eating.

There were a variety of items on the plate that I recognized: a bowl of rice, lettuce salad, an egg (that turned out to be raw and was added to the cooking soup), pickles and fish. I’m sure that it was all very healthy and I actually ate quite a lot of the items offered. To drink we had tea and cold water.

At 10:00 the bus took us back to the home on the hill called Chiiori, where we had been the previous afternoon. There were artists to teach us traditional noodle preparation, how to make sandals from a kind of straw, as well as bowls from reeds. Since I enjoy taking pictures I walked from venue to venue, learning as I went. The thong sandals were the most interesting option from my perspective.

Lunch was served around noon. My favorite was the curry on rice. Along with this were large, flat plastic plates with about 10 compartments to hold a variety of options for lunch, including potato salad, little pickles, fish, an orange slice and other items I have forgotten or couldn’t identify. Following lunch the busses brought us back to the hotel, where we could relax and use the onsen (natural hot water pools) until dinner time at a nearby inn, where we celebrated July 4th early with barbecued meat (chicken, sausages, thinly sliced beef and pork), fresh vegetables, fish, a variety of drinks and ice cream cones for dessert. For the first time in several days it rained quite hard, so we stayed under the protected area around the barbecue grills, eating, drinking and talking until the time came for the entertainment. We heard three women singing traditional songs, then a group including children danced to the rhythm of drums, encouraged participation from the rest of us. The highlight was about 20 minutes of fireworks, really good ones. Fortunately it had stopped raining by that time and the low clouds had disappeared. When the entertainment was completed, it was about 8:30 and we were very glad to board the busses and head back to the hotel, where we organized our belongings for the 7:00 AM departure tomorrow morning.

Saturday, July 4

This morning we were up before 6:00, had some coffee and roll, were in the busses by 7:00 heading north out of the mountains from the island of Shikoku with our destination of Kyoto. The hotel packed a breakfast for us which consisted of two scoops of rice (one with seaweed and the other with a kind of red pickle sauce), a cold scrambled egg, a piece of salmon and another kind of fish, a square of pink and yellow tofu, and a tiny (imagine small, but even smaller) bottle of soy sauce. There were also sandwiches on soft white bread with ham and cheese, also egg salad, which tasted pretty good. The nearby hills were a lush green. In the distance higher forested mountains were covered by a mist or fog. It was very beautiful, peaceful and natural. Because it was a Saturday morning there was little or no traffic in the towns we drove through. After the talk about colossal engineering projects by Alex Kerr and how they detract from the natural beauty, I noticed them everywhere. I think we have heard that there are almost no rivers in their natural beds. Most have been dammed or diverted into some kind of concrete structure. Our guide, Eva, had pointed out two days previously on the drive to Shikoku, the original style of heavy tile roofs, so I was trying to find and photograph them as we motored through the countryside. The top of the roof line has large almost circular tiles to cover the flat connecting ones, and the outermost tile is even more decorative, making for that kind of upturned silhouette we associate with Japanese roof design. The morning light made the reflection of water in the rice paddies perfect for a quick picture.

We arrived in Kyoto about noon, were brought to one of the renovated homes that Alex Kerr showed in his slide presentation, had an hour to eat lunch. The Yalies who were headed to the meeting with the university people, had to find a jacket, then were bussed away. The rest of us mostly women were told that our tour of the palace and gardens would last until 5:00 after which we would go to the restaurant for the dinner with the university groups. Some women chose to put on their nice clothes, but I couldn’t see me walking for several hours in the heat (85F-30C) with the clothes I would have put on for dinner in a nice restaurant, so my choice was comfort above all.

On the way to the Nijo Castle, our guide briefed us on the history of Japan, especially the role of Kyoto, which means “Capital of Capitals” while Tokyo means ” Eastern Capital”. Kyoto is the 7th largest city in Japan with 1.5 million inhabitants. It is the cultural center, while Tokyo is the business center. From 794 – 1868 it was the capital of Japan, fortunately was not destroyed during WWII, so its historic buildings are still intact. There are 2000 temples (dedicated to Buddha) and shrines (dedicated to the Japanese gods). Buddhism was brought to Japan in the 16th century from China while Shintoism, a form of ancestor worship, is indigenous to Japan. In Kyoto itself there are 400 Shinto shrines, which attract 50 million tourists a year.

Japan was ruled from the 6th century BC until the 12th by an emperor, then for 700 years ( 12th – 19th centuries) by the Samurai whose general was a Shogun, nominated by the emperor. Although this position was supposed to change when the shogun died, it developed into an inherited dynasty, going from father to son. As a result the emperor lost his power and became a kind of ceremonial and spiritual leader.  In 1867 the emperor regained his power.

The imperial family history extends back 2600 years with the current emperor assumed to be the 125th direct descendant from the first one. Since written records weren’t kept until the 8th century AD, the experts are not completely sure that the oral retelling of the imperial history previous to this is reliable. But the history of the last 1200 years is definitely authentic.

After leaving the palace grounds we drove to a Zen Temple called Daisen-In, which is a sub temple in a huge garden complex of The Nijo Castle, built in 1603 as the official Kyoto residence of a Shogun ruler. The ostentatious style of construction was intended to demonstrate his prestige and to signal the demise of the emperor’s power. As a safeguard against treachery, the shogun had the interior fitted with squeaky floors and concealed chambers where bodyguards could keep watch. Part of the castle burned, but the part we visited was the original. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside. The impression was of large, virtually empty rooms with sliding doors to control light and ventilation. There were some paintings on the walls, also intricate wood carvings high on the walls as room dividers. Back outside we strolled through the extensive gardens which had a lake and waterfall, at least in the area we visited.

Following the visit to the palace we drove to Daitoku-Ji, which is a huge complex of Zen temples and Japanese gardens. En route our guide enlightened us on the history and philosophy of Zen Buddhism, which stresses meditation rather than teaching and hard work as a way to reach enlightenment. To accomplish this goal a person needed an ideal place like a garden with no distractions like water features or plants. So Zen gardens are characterized by their small size, gravel or sand bases, with some rocks and bonsai trees for decoration. When the shoguns lost their power in the late 1800s Zen Buddhism lost its popularity and the Zen gardens gradually added more features typical for this area.

The Zen garden we visited, called Daisen-In is an elegant example of 17th century dry-landscape style. Here the trees, rocks and sand are said to represent and express various spectacles of nature, from waterfalls and valleys to mountain lakes. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures. One feature that stands out is the sand which is raked into perfect patterns, similar to but much more elaborate than a golf sand trap.

The following comes from the Wikipedia web site:

The essential element of Zen Buddhism is found in its name, for Zen means “meditation.” Zen teaches that enlightenment is achieved through the profound realization that one is already an enlightened being. This awakening can happen gradually or in a flash of insight (as emphasized by the Soto and Rinzai schools, respectively). But in either case, it is the result of one’s own efforts. Deities and scriptures can offer only limited assistance.

Zen traces its origins to India, but it was formalized in China. Chan, as it is known in China, was transmitted to Japan and took root there in the thirteenth century. Chan was enthusiastically received in Japan, especially by the samurai class that wielded political power at this time, and it became the most prominent form of Buddhism between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. The immigrant Chinese prelates were educated men, who introduced not only religious practices but also Chinese literature, calligraphy, philosophy, and ink painting to their Japanese disciples, who often in turn traveled to China for further study.

Today, ink monochrome painting is the art form most closely associated with Zen Buddhism. In general, the first Japanese artists to work in this medium were Zen monks who painted in a quick and evocative manner to express their religious views and personal convictions. Their preferred subjects were Zen patriarchs, teachers, and enlightened individuals. In time, however, artists moved on to secular themes such as bamboo, flowering plums, orchids, and birds, which in China were endowed with scholarly symbolism. The range of subject matter eventually broadened to include literary figures and landscapes, and the painting styles often became more important than personal expression.

Zen Buddhism’s emphasis on simplicity and the importance of the natural world generated a distinctive aesthetic, which is expressed by the terms wabi and sabi. These two concepts are used to express a sense of rusticity, melancholy, loneliness, naturalness, and age, so that a misshapen, worn peasant’s jar is considered more beautiful than a pristine, carefully crafted dish. While the latter pleases the senses, the former stimulates the mind and emotions to contemplate the essence of reality. This artistic sensibility has had an enormous impact on Japanese culture up to modern times.

At 5:00 PM our group drove to the restaurant where we were to meet up with the Yale and local university group for dinner. The tables and chairs were set up in a way that was physically comfortable for us (see picture) and looked very inviting. Since our “non Yalie” group arrived early, we ended up sitting around at our designated tables for over an hour until the bus with the mostly men arrived. There were welcome speeches from both sides, during which time the geisha girls offered various drinks (sparkling saki, saki, beer, wine, or water). It must have been 8:00 before the first of about 8 dishes was served. I’m thinking there were about 100 of us, sitting in groups of 5 or 6. In our group were two very friendly Japanese men, one of whom spoke excellent English. Through him we were able to have interesting discussions about the food we were eating, the cost of food in Japan, etc. Practically every dish had fish as a main ingredient and was presented absolutely beautifully. They were works of art. However, our table was the totally last one served, and often one Japanese host and I received our courses ten minutes after the other three in our group. I think the kitchen just miscounted the number of guests. Anyway, I took pictures of the first four presentations, also of the menu, but toward the end I was totally “out of gas” and definitely not communicative. The food we receive is exquisitely prepared, but the fruits and vegetables are basically just used for decoration. We figured out that a cantaloupe costs $20, for example. Also the most expensive Kobe beef is $100 per pound and the cheapest beef $25.

About 9:45 PM those first served were heading to the door to pick up their shoes and find the bus back to our lodgings, while I was being served the last two courses of dinner, two pieces of almost raw beef with ginger rice, then ice cream with fruit for dessert. These last two options were quite tasty, but due to the late hour I had to practically inhale them.

The return to our home base required walking about ten minutes to the bus, driving another twenty or so, then walking through the neighborhood to the house. Here a pleasant young Japanese man tried to point out all of the ins and outs of the phone, air-conditioning, internet, coffee maker, etc. etc. As might be expected we were all so tired that we had trouble taking it all in. There are three couples using the house, so we decided to number the three sleeping areas, put those numbers on a piece of paper and draw them out of a hat. Dave and I drew the room with two double beds and some furniture on the second floor. There is another sleeping area near ours and we share the sink, toilet and shower, which are each in a separate nook. The third sleeping area is downstairs with access to a second bath and toilet. Because the rooms are only separated by bamboo sliding screens, there is basically no privacy, but the air conditioning is nice and there is lots of room.

By the time we fell into bed it was just after 10:30 and I had already decided not to participate in the excursion for the next day. I just needed time off to write my journal, repack, not be part of the group.

Sunday, July 5th

This morning Dave and I were up around 7:00 and found that the other two couples had already eaten and headed off to explore. I brought my journal up to date, photographed the house, e-mailed, ate and relaxed.

The group visited Nara, the first capital of Japan during the 8th century AD. The first site was Todai-ji which is the Hall of the Great Buddha. The Buddha is housed in the largest wooden building in the world which was originally built in the 8th century then rebuilt in 1709. The Buddha within the building is over 16 meters high and consists of 437 tons of bronze. The group watched kids squeezing through a hole in the bottom of one of the supporting columns. The hole is exactly the same size as one of the great Buddha’s nostrils. If you make it through the hole you are supposedly ensured of enlightenment. The retired head priest of the temple gave a lecture and access to portions of the temple not available to the public.

The next stop was Kofuku-ji, where there are two pagodas, one 3-stories and one 5-stories, dating from 1143 and 1426. At the National Treasure Hall the local priest explained the artifacts. This last site was also a special event for our group. Rather than attending the baseball game in Osaka some took the express train back to Kyoto which only took 30 minutes.

About 5:00 Dave arrived back from the excursion. He was able to access our Bresnan e-mail account, which until now, hadn’t worked. Around 7:00 we walked with the use of a detailed city map about three blocks to the river where we found a Chinese restaurant with a nice deck overlooking the water, ordered food with flavors we were familiar with and enjoyed a pleasant dinner. The cost for one pint – 1/2 liter of beer and three dishes came to $62. For sure Japan isn’t cheap.  Back at the residence we enjoyed e-mailing until it was time for bed.

Monday, July 6th

Our group meeting didn’t begin until 9:30, so there was no hurry to get started. The tour began with a stop at Kiyomizu-Dera, an ancient temple first built in 789, but the present buildings are reconstructions dating from 1633. It is one of the most famous landmarks of the city. Dotted around the hillsides are other halls and shrines with a waterfall and lots of trees. While we were there numerous school groups were learning about their history. It was so hot and humid that we just dripped in our clothes. On the walk up and back we passed by many shops, many of which sold candy. Other products for sale were ceramics, traditional Japanese clothing and food.

The next stop was Sanjusangen-Do, built in 1164. The original temple burned down in 1249 but a faithful copy was constructed in 1266. The temple’s name refers to the 33 spaces between the pillars of the long, narrow building that houses 1001 statues of the 1000-armed Buddhist goddess of mercy.

Dave attended the afternoon session at Doshisha University with speakers from Yale and Doshish.  The simultaneous translations continue to amaze.

After lunch I was able to participate in a workshop that explained the basics of calligraphy. This skill is way more difficult than it looks, would sort of be like asking Japanese (or Chinese or Koreans) to try to write our script longhand and make it beautiful. The Japanese try to perfect this skill over a lifetime, and those who do it well are definitely artists.

The evening was spent as guests of Doshisha University. For the first time I was able to shower and dress up in nicer evening clothes that had, until this point, been stored in my suitcase. To entertain those of us who weren’t Yalies, there was first a Japanese tea ceremony performed by geishas. Unfortunately I had left my camera back in the room, but hope to find pictures by others in the group to add to my collection. Following this we had another chance to try our hand at calligraphy and watch flower arranging. The women who set up these tables were so thoughtful, helpful, friendly and supportive. Since language exchanges were limited, I tried to reply with smiles and other international body language.

The dinner was one of the best for my Western palate that we had been served. It was a buffet with endless choices of not only fish, but beef, chicken, tempura shrimp and asparagus. Even the desserts were very western. One of our Japanese hostesses said the choices were very unusual for them, but very tasty.

Wednesday, July 8

This morning we were up at 6:00, picked up at 7:30 for a drive to the train station. At 8:10 exactly the 19 in our group boarded the bullet train for our 3-hour trip to the west-southwest with a final destination of Hirado, one of the westernmost islands in Japan.

At 2:00 we arrived at our lunch destination. The two choices had been ordered by cell phone ahead of time. When I looked into the dining room where we were to eat, I saw the very low tables with pillows on the floor and thought to myself, how am I going to configure myself into an eating position. But it turned out that there were “wells” under the table into which we could put our legs, making eating comfortable. It was a similar layout to the welcome dinner restaurant.

The island has had an interesting European history. Portuguese ships first landed in 1549. It was not until 1584 that the Portuguese formally established a trading post, but they were soon followed by the Dutch and British. In 1621 the British abandoned Japan and turned their interests to India.

Before we reached the main town on Hirado, where we spent the night, we drove up to the castle, which has a commanding view over the water. One of our three young Japanese guides grew up here on the island, told us about playing hide-and-go-seek as a child on the castle grounds. There are actually four twenty-something guides, one an American and the other three Japanese. They speak each others’ language perfectly, have lived and studied around the world, are working for an international organization called The Nagasaki Islands School of Natural and Intercultural Studies, which is a social enterprise founded in 2004 with the aim of developing international leaders of the next generation. One of our guides is actually the founder of the school, which was rated No. 1 among all 48 programs offered world wide by “People to People Student Ambassador Programs”, founded by President Eisenhower in 1956. Their web site is www.nagasaki-islands.org .

At 7:00 PM those of us who wanted some exercise walked the 20 minutes along the curvy paved road to the restaurant where we ate dinner. This was a very unique and ethnic place, as you can see from the pictures. The host and cook, continually brought lovely dishes of food, which we enjoyed, and which I photographed. The first huge platter had mostly raw fish and after the week of fish, we weren’t so eager to indulge in this food. The rest of the items were most tasty: tempura shrimp, lotus root (very crunchy), carrot, sweet potato, calamari, a plate with beef and baked sweet potato (we prefer the Montana variety of beef). The Japanese beer and saki slid down easily. By 9:00 we were back at the hotel, where Dave enjoyed the hot spring onsen and I caught up on my journal.

Thursday, July 9th

This morning began with a lovely walk to a temple with a graveyard of a powerful local island family that ruled here for about 600 years (1300-1867). This island is almost as far west as you can get in Japan, is also the place where the first Europeans landed in 1550. These Portuguese brought Christianity and guns, told the Japanese if they wanted the guns, they had to convert. The locals became devout Catholics, were given land to build churches way up on the hills, which was worthless for agriculture. It is still possible to see some of these structures.

From the late 1600’s until 1867 Japan lived in isolation, closed its borders to any ships trying to dock at its ports. Actually any Japanese who managed to slip away on ships were not allowed to return home. This was the practice because the ruling shoguns were afraid of outside influences. During these almost 200 years of isolation, the Christians went underground and tried to cover up any visible signs of their beliefs. Interestingly enough, when the laws changed in 1867 and Japan began allowing in foreigners, it was discovered that the underground Christians had maintained much of the music and holy days while in isolation, although they had added Buddhist elements so that the officials would not persecute them.

We had several guides today, but one was the father of the young man we met yesterday. The father had worked in Houston for a while, was obviously very proud to be able to show us his home island. Apparently his favorite spot is a small grassy area which commemorates foreigners who have died here. An Englishman, William Adams, was on a ship that wrecked off the coast in 1600 and never was able to return home, because he couldn’t get permission from the ruler of the island. As a result he spent 20 years of his life in this area, even married a Japanese woman, although he had a wife and family back in England. His tomb is at the site we visited. Our guide, through his son, said this area represents to him a place for people to make new beginnings. At first very few locals felt his passion, but now each year more come on special days to contemplate those who died far from home.

As our walk continued we visited a Japanese teahouse that was 120 years old. The young Japanese guide explained the meaning of the basic elements of the ceremony, said that there is endless symbolism, which even she doesn’t understand. Next door was a museum of local history guided by the curator. Unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures inside and the written descriptions were only in Japanese.

Lunch was back down in the town at a Japanese restaurant. As I walked upstairs to find the rest of the group, I noticed that most were sitting at the very low tables, but without the comfort of the holes underneath. Fortunately there was one table with some chairs nearby. After lunch we enjoyed some very tasty ice cream from a stand outside the restaurant.

At this point we were supposed to head off to the ferry to take us to another island and our local host families, However the wind was very strong and the ferry had been canceled, so we spent the afternoon driving to the south end of the island, even stopped in a sake brewery which has been in the family since 1688. The young man who is being trained to manage the business is the 15th generation in the family.

According to a pamphlet that we received, Sake has played a central role in Japanese life and culture for the past 2,000 years. It is primarily made from rice, fermented and brewed using a microorganism called koui and yeast. It has an alcohol content from 13% to 16%, can be enjoyed either hot or cold, but we were told that the cheaper varieties are served warm.

We had a tour of the distillery, tried several different varieties, then headed back to the hotel where we spent last night. Dinner was on our own, and we definitely didn’t want fish. A restaurant was pointed out that served “western” food, so we ate pizza, which turned out to be quite tasty.  A quick walk brought us back to the hotel a little after 8:00. Dave had another pleasant onsen soak.  Tomorrow should be interesting if we actually make our way to the island where we will be staying with local host families.

Friday, July 10

By 9:00 we loaded onto the bus and drove from the north to south end of this island of Hirado in order to reach the ferry terminal and catch the boat to the island of Nozaki about an hour farther southwest and one of the westward most points of Japan. Thirty years ago it was abandoned but now there is great effort underway to turn it into a World Heritage site.

When we arrived about 11:30 it was very cloudy, but comfortable, somewhere in the 70’sF – low to mid 20’s C. Flying around everywhere were dragon flies and in background the sound of cicadas. The island of Nozaki is 4 miles/6 km long and about 1 km wide. There is evidence of human occupation from 20,000 years ago. We were shown arrowheads, which continue to be found, and experts believe that the population hundreds of years ago was larger than in the 20th century. Around 200 years ago people fled here from Hirado, the island we had just left, to follow Christianity and flee the power of the local shoguns. At that time there were already Buddhist and Shinto followers here, so the new Christians had to keep their beliefs secret. They spread out to uninhabited places on the island.

The beginning of the end of habitation came in the 1950s, when electricity and schools were introduced to Nozaki. The inhabitants were subsistence farmers and fishermen, and had no money to pay for the improvements. When they were required to pay for power, but couldn’t, they moved to the mainland or nearby islands.

About 5 miles – 8km across the bay we could see Ozika island, which is newer geologically, about the same size as Nozaki, but flatter. Just a five minute walk uphill from the boat dock was a large water reservoir which was built to collect the water on this island, then pump it through a pipe underwater to Ozika, where it is used for agriculture. Considering this island had been abandoned, it was surprising that millions had been spent on expensive projects such as this, as well as the school buildings, and asphalt roads.

While walking about 30 minutes to the school buildings we noticed wild deer. They had been brought by early settlers as sacred animals and are now multiplying to the point where the vegetation is at risk, as well as the health of the deer.

Lunch was prepared by people from the next island of Ozika and was a very tasty assortment of mostly tempura vegetables, shrimp and fish, along with several salads. We ate at 6 round tables which were about 15″ – 40 cm high. Fortunately there were a few chairs, because I find it so uncomfortable to sit on a cushion on the floor at the low tables for more than about 5 minutes.

I used this time to talk to Eva about some Japanese customs, as well as recent Japanese history.  The first subject was the introduction and use of the modern toilets, which we have seen everywhere. They were introduced about 12 years ago and cost around $600 each. I have taken pictures of several, wanted to know what the directions say. The red button means stop, the blue one “ass” or bottom wash, the orange one “bidet”. We couldn’t quite figure out what the little orange button meant. The remaining writing is directions for use, precaution with the electric connections and use by elderly and children. The Japanese brand name is Toto.

Eva remembered back in her childhood when modern appliances made the life of her family much easier. 1955 they bought the first washing machine and refrigerator. The TV came next in 1960, although they were available earlier than that. In 1964 there was a huge push to modernize because Japan hosted the Olympic games. Along with all this came Kentucky Fried Chicken and Coca Cola, which were big hits here.

Another cultural difference is eye contact, which is found by the Japanese to be aggressive. Their natural reaction is to back away and look down at the ground. They are learning from our movies and TV about being more direct.

Later in the afternoon many in our group walked down to the deserted beach.  If the weather had been warmer, this would have been a nice place to swim.  Up the hill above the school was a small Catholic church built in 1908. In the rain we walked back to the boat dock and motored across to the island of Ogika, where we met our hosts, Miho and her partner Boo-san. The host families had prepared a potluck dinner for us, which was huge, ethnic and delicious, accompanied by beer, wine, water, etc. You need only look at the pictures to agree. We were treated to a dance performance accompanied by music on a stringed instrument. Around 8:30 we drove in our hosts’ car to their home. How terrific to be able to spend the night with them. The pictures show details, but in general we noticed that every room opened to the next with large sliding doors seemingly made of bamboo screens. This made it possible to enlarge the space, or divide it into smaller ones, depending on how it was being used. We didn’t go to the upper floor, but the main floor appeared to be spacious, possibly about 1000 ft. sq. or 100 sq. m. There were large windows along the outside walls outfitted with translucent glass, probably to provide privacy. The toilet room had one of the slick new models, along with a urinal. Outside of that room was the sink for washing hands, brushing teeth, etc. The kitchen had all of the modern conveniences, except, as Boo-san said, there is no dishwasher.

Once we had deposited our backpacks, we were shown to the living room, where we sat at a low table on mats. There was enough room to move one’s legs into different positions under the table, which made sitting there for the next couple of hours comfortable. Before coming to Japan, Dave had bought a picture book of Montana, which we gave our hosts. Boo-san made a great effort to speak English, which was of course, hugely appreciated, since I haven’t learned a word of Japanese.

During the next two hours, before heading to bed, we drank a bottle of iced sake, picked up at a convenience store on the way home. One of the guides, Josh, an American who has learned great Japanese, stopped by the house, which made it much easier to care and share with our hosts. We also looked at a small photo album that I had prepared at home showing our family, maps of Montana and our most beautiful and favorite features. This way Miho and Boo-san learned about our life. Through Josh, I asked how the house is heated in the winter. They pointed to a large ceramic pot, about 18″ 40 cm) high and across, which reminded me of a pot used for plants on a patio. In the winter charcoal is burned in it in the house. I asked about proper ventilation and Josh thought it must be OK, otherwise it wouldn’t be used.

We also found out that Boo-san is a farmer. Less that 10 years ago he and Miho moved to this island from a more congested location on the mainland. They love the quiet life, the connection with nature, and hard work on the land. Boo-san raises organic vegetables, hand-picks the centipedes and other insects off the plants, rotates the crops to protect the nutrients in the soil, farms from September to June, when he takes three months off to work at the international school, whose founder and other teachers were our guides for the past 3 days. Miho is the cook.

At 10:00 we all headed to bed, to be ready for the 6:00 wake up the next morning. Dave and I took showers in a large room which had a bath tub, smelled nicely of herbs, but seemingly wasn’t ventilated. We spent a very restful night on our individual futon mats on the floor with the electric fan oscillating nearby. The windows weren’t opened, possibly because of mosquitoes. Even though it has rained on and off steadily during our visit (this is the rainy season), the cloud cover has kept the temperatures comfortable, from night lows about 72 (21C) to daytime highs about 78 (25C).

Sunday, July 12

Sunday was a LONG 36-hour day!  We were able to enjoy the facilities of this Osaka Swiss International Hotel, first with brunch on the top floor overlooking the city.  Dave later used the pool.  Access to the train station couldn’t have been easier, as it was in the basement of the hotel. The new airport was built on a man-made island only 30 miles (40km) from Osaka, a 38 minute ride from our station, across a long bridge carrying cars as well as trains.  We popped upstairs and very quickly found the check-in counter.  On the trip home we stopped again in SFO and DEN before arriving in Billings at 11:00 PM.

A couple of items I meant to include earlier.  Men’s and women’s bikes in Japan are configured the same, just like women’s bikes in the US without the metal bar that goes horizontally between the seat and handlebars.

Having spent many years studying German, I was interested in the history of Japanese.  At Google or Wikipedia there is more information than I would ever want to absorb.  But in general I found out that Japanese is basically a language for itself.  There are grammatical connections to Korean, also to Hungarian and Finnish, no doubt because of the interaction of the Mongolians with peoples in  these parts of Asia and Europe.  The Japanese said DNA tests show that they are genetically related to the Koreans and Mongolians.  Japanese isn’t a tonal language like Chinese, although the Chinese alphabet was adapted to be the first writing system Japanese had.

The End

Feature JapanCindy’s Photos Back to Yale ’62