Hiroshima

Sunday, April 1

Sunday dawned sunless, and from Kyoto we took the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line #495 to Hiroshima, two and a half hours away, through hilly countryside spread with suburbs and industrial buildings. Amid the forested hillsides, large clusters of cherry blossom trees, like floral fireworks against the melange of dark green woods, catch your gaze.

We visited the Atomic Bomb Memorial and the nearby ruin of a building standing behind an iron fence in stark testimony to that terrible day. If you’re interested in learning about A-bomb survivors, go to http://blog.livedoor.jp/mitokosei/

The Atomic Bomb Memorial stands in a beautiful park backed by a pristine lake. An eternal flame of peace burns at one end of the lake and is not to be extinguished until there is no more war. It will indeed burn for an eternity. Mankind cannot seem to not go to war.

 

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Kyoto

 

March 31, 2018

Sakura (Cherry Blossom Festival season) in Kyoto was lovely. The cherry blossom trees were astonishing, gorgeously covered in white blossoms looking as if hundreds of ivory-winged butterflies had settled on the branches. Families picnicked beneath the trees, and many Japanese wore the traditional dress in celebration of the holiday–the women in lovely, brilliantly patterned kimonos, the men in the more sober, elegant yukata. We walked about, took photos, and enjoyed the beauty of Maruyama Park. Then we caught a taxi to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest to do the forest walk. That was wonderful, but a bit exhausting for me as most of the  the path, winding through a magnificent forest of bamboo, is on an incline.

Back in Kyoto, we strolled the Philosopher’s Walk, along a canal, enjoying the breath-taking sight of the cherry blossoms in full bloom. The flowing canal, cherry blossom petals floating on the water, darkened as evening descended and the air turned smoky with twilight.

 

june, no gloom

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View from side door of the Lions Mansion Apartments, Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku

March 31, 2018, Tokyo

After the long, long flight from LAX to Haneda International, Japan, and a train ride from the airport, Medy and I finally arrived in Tokyo. We got a bit lost trying to find the Air BNB apartment in Shinjuku ward, but after wandering the streets, knowing we were close, we finally found the address in Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku. We were greatly relieved.

The apartment was a single room, none too big, with two beds, a tiny bathroom and a kitchen sink area with a small cabinet above. There was a closet stocked with room supplies which we were not to touch according to the rules sheet the owner left for us. The bed linens appeared clean, the floor was brown linoleum, the walls an unmemorable color, possibly with a pattern on them, but it’s fuzzy in my mind now.

We freshened up and went out to find dinner. Night had descended, neon dazzled the streets of rollicking Shinjuku seeded with night clubs, cafes, shops, and full of people seeking dinner and entertainment. Ramen restaurants are everywhere, from fancy dining to hole-in-the wall cafes. We popped into a shoebox-size restaurant and had large bowls of savory ramen brimming with noodles, enoki (tiny capped white mushrooms), dried seaweed, green onions, a slice of pork, and a boiled egg. Smoking in public is common (some places provide designated smoking areas and on the trains smoking is only allowed in the smoking car) but in cafes and restaurants, puffs of cigarette smoke wends its way all over so breathing was a little difficult, but the ramen was delicious.

The next day we found our way to Shinjuku Station and, using our Japan Rail passes, caught the Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto, chasing the cherry blossoms. The blooming season runs north to south and Tokyo’s Sakura blooming was over, the blossoms limp and fading. But first, that morning, we went to Caffe Veloce for breakfast. The coffee was to die for! So delicious we lingered amid the golden wood contemporary decor and had a second cup. I ate most of a sweet bean curd-stuffed bun (a little too rich for me) and Medy’s bun turned out to be filled with ham and cheese. For a coffee cafe, Caffe Veloce was very quiet. People came in, quietly ordered what they wanted, carried the tray to a table, sat and ate, very little conversation, none really.

Japanese train stations are all over the city and are impressively clean, neat, and extremely busy. Hundreds of people flow through as smoothly as schools of fish, heading for the many platforms to catch fast trains that run all over the city and out to the suburban areas and other cities. There are uniformed staff, platform guards, and gate clerks, and automatic ticket machines for wherever you want to go in the metropolitan and suburban areas.

The train was SRO, but after about a half an hour as we left Tokyo behind and entered the countryside, it cleared enough for us to find seats and be comfortable for the rest of the trip. As in Caffe Veloce, the train was absolutely quiet except for station announcements in Japanese and English over the intercom, the sound of the rails, and an occasional yelping baby.

The train was meticulously clean, spotless windows, seats, siding, and floor. A uniformed young woman pushed a trolley down the aisle stocked with sweets, bags of crisps, sandwich packets, juices, tea, coffee, and water, for sale. The comfy seats had drop-down tray tables, and unlike public transportation in the US where no eating and drinking is allowed (and you know why), people can refresh themselves with food and drink on Japanese trains and not one bit of litter is to be found afterward. The Japanese do not litter. They take their trash with them when they leave the train and dispose of it in an appropriate place or take it home and dispose of it there. (Yep!) Public trashcans are rare, practically non-existent. I saw a sign posted in English on a platform wall, can’t recall the exact wording, but it stated that littering was rude, inconsiderate and morally irresponsible.

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More to come!

cherry blossom time

The weather’s turned cold again, but the sun shines brightly everyday. Severe storms were predicted for this week, but guess they passed elsewhere. It’s 59 degrees today. I was worried about the pending storm because I’m flying off to California on Saturday on my way to Japan, an unexpected trip to a country I’ve always wanted to visit, a distant wish I didn’t think would ever become real (despite my upcoming cruise to China in August–another dream trip). I’ll be traveling with a good friend and we leave next Thursday out of LAX. I’m excited! I’ll get to visit with my California friends, see faces I’ve sorely missed, and then off to exciting Tokyo. Oh yes there are places we plan to see–first, the Cherry Blossom Festival, which will have started in Tokyo by the time we arrive, and then Kyoto, city of temples, Mount Fuji, the Arashiyama bamboo forest, and I hope we can squeeze in a tour of the Tokyo Imperial Palace (a reservation is required), among the many other wanderings we plan to do. And sushi, sushi, sushi! Not to mention shopping! Tokyo’s Ginza is full of great stores, and I plan on dropping some yen! I’ll be taking lots of photos and doing as much journaling as possible so I can write about it here. It’s going to be a fabulous trip!

How much editing on Shadow Walk have I done this week? Not much! Besides preparing for the trip, I had to get my taxes done. So taxes are done and in the mail. Shadow Walk can hang until I return in April, and also I’d like to return to writing A Fall of Diamonds then.

I’m planning to publish Shadow Walk and I’d actually set a release date of May 31, but now I’m thinking not. It needs more editing and revising work and I don’t even have a cover for it yet!

I’m halfway through the first draft of A Fall of Diamonds. It’s been sitting since I took time to write a new ending for Shadow Walk and move along into the edit phase. A second draft is pending, and then it goes to my two beta readers, so you see, a May 31 release date was ridiculous!

Now I’ve got a short story to polish and, if I can settle down my monkey mind, get it submitted today.

Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

The Scent of Wrath

I thoroughly enjoyed The Scent of Wrath, Book 2 in The Seven Deadly Sins series. When Olivia McKibben glimpses a face from her past, an old fear returns to haunt her and threaten the safety of her and her ten-year old son, Brian. Greta Boris weaves a tense story of maternal love, trauma, and the vengeful anger of wrath. For this book I suggest classic reading mode–an easy chair and your beverage of choice.

 

 

 

Found Dead in Arugula

51ZSNHkenmLI finished Found Dead in Arugula by Michelle Knowlden with a delighted grin. When Quaker widow Faith Lisstrom is arrested for murder, help comes unexpectedly from a lost love. This charming story kicks off a new cozy mystery series by Ms. Knowlden, author of the intriguing Abishag Mysteries and the engaging Deluded Detective series. Ms. Knowlden is adept at creating heart-warming characters and villains whom we understand, giving her stories a human depth that makes her mysteries a pleasure to read.