Take me to Tokyo

Sakura Blossom Ueno Park

The cherry blossoms are just coming out and everywhere I turn I start thinking about Tokyo.

The first time Zilla took me to Sri Lanka, which was-wow- already seven years ago, our flight connected through Narita, which is to Tokyo what Seatac is to Seattle. We were in Sri Lanka almost three weeks and in Tokyo for only three days, but it is Japan that I really remember.

Part of it, I’m sure, was the unexpected good luck of it all. Sri Lanka, in those days, was still at war and while we were there the airport was bombed. Zilla and I were newly together, and being home with him, meeting his parents, being white, wondering if what we had would work and if we were even physically safe was, well, a lot. But when we landed in Japan all of that was over. We were just two people again, with two days together.

DSC_0064

We took the train in to Tokyo and walked up the stairs to Ueno Park. Petals blew in the wind and fell on my face. Without even realizing it, without even considering it might happen, even thinking it was remotely possible, we’d come to Tokyo —and had two whole days—right in the middle of the Cherry Blossom Festival.

DSC_0047

The park was pink, petals lined the paths. People were out of their offices, celebrating. Men in suits and women in skirts–knees neatly folded—sat on blue tarps and drank sake. Their shoes lined the blue plastic. Petals fell in their black hair. Petals fell on their umbrellas.  The air smelled like fresh linen. Everyone was talking and taking photos. Food carts were parked everywhere.

Japanese Fans

DSC_0079

Tokyo Strawberry Lollipops

Japanese Woman

DSC_0018

Zilla spent the first grade in Kyoto—because his parents were on sabbatical there— and he still remembers how to pronounce some Japanese. Please and thank you, bathrooms, money, takoyaki, which the food carts sold, but mostly just the basics now, since it has been thirty years. But his pronunciation is perfect and he has the right body language, a sense of when to nod and bow. So I followed his lead, and we just carried on with a few words and lots of sake, covered in petals and eating fresh tofu soup, making new friends, as it grew dark.Photographing Cherry Blossoms

That night we stayed in a traditional Japanese ryokan—or guest house–on  folded mats. I bathed nude in the traditional baths with three old ladies—more on that, I promise—and we had a thirty course meal, one of which was a single perfect strawberry, that reminds me that perfect falls short as a word. A geisha—or at least that is what she looked like to me– in full kimono brought each dish, kneeled at our low table, backed away as if I were a queen, and then bowed. I hadn’t seen anything like it, except on Reading Rainbow! We still have the menu framed on our wall.

DSC_0115

Fortunes Tokyo Ueno Park

Ueno Park Tokyo Sakura Cherry Blossoms

I think about that trip sometimes, when life gets busy and time seems to stop. Graham Greene says in Travels with my Aunt that travel makes stretches time, makes it longer. Two days, and they held enough wonder for years. Just two days.

Where would you go?

Update 1: I finished my first Computer Science problem set. BAAM! As Emeril would say. The second one was harder: baam? (not a roar, but a meow)

Update 2: Several says ago I woke up to this email: “Your friend has send you an article from WebMD.” I opened it. “How to Get Pregnant Quick: Fertility, Ovulation and Conception.” The friend who sent it? Zilla’s mom! AHHHHHHH! At least I know she’s reading my blog.

25 thoughts on “Take me to Tokyo

      1. Kyoto was where Zilla lived as a boy–and where we want to visit when we go back. Are the blossoms out yet? I saw a news report that they just started, record early, in Toyko.

  1. Reading this reminds me how little I’ve shared of my experiences in Japan with you…I tend to forget how foreign these things are to everybody else, how all my experiences growing up bi-cultural (tri-cultural?) and Buddhist-Episcopalian were not the norm.

  2. May today bring you a single perfect strawberry. And I want to see that menu posted to your wall the next time I’m in Seattle.
    xx,SJL

  3. Two days… does that include travel time? I’ve been thinking about the UW quad and the arboretum lately as I watch my neighbor’s trees blossom. Maybe just an afternoon … minimal travel time needed.

  4. You’re great with words, you’re great with a camera! I’ve never been to Tokyo, but the details you put in your story made me feel as if I had just spent a few minutes there.

  5. Thats lovely Beth, just the way I remember it. Arigato!
    PS – I was wondering if you got the webmed post. Now I know

    1. Hey I am so grateful I found your blog, I found you by mistake, while I was browsing on Yahoo for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say thanks a lot for a fantastic post and a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the great job.

  6. Wow. Petals and calmness. I loved this post. And re-reading the turkey ones was great ! Hey, reading well written stories stretches time too! Finally remembered to bookmark your blog!

Write Back....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s