I am a chronic procrastinator. Everyday for the past 6 months I've intended to update my blog and yet I never seem to get around to it. There has definitely been ample experiences to write about. There was my trip to Oahu and Japan for all of April, a new job on Kauai and my first magazine article being published. But I guess compared to my usual jet setting, surfing, border hopping ways my past year has been pretty tame. Still, I'm going to start dusting out the cobwebs in my head and write a bit about Japan, one of the most quirky cultures I've ever experienced.
It had been a few years since I had seen my sister and my mum. I was living on the remote North shore of Kauai in Hawaii for a while without a car and was feeling pretty frustrated, so when the opportunity came to visit Japan with them I was stoked. My sister lives in a rural village and teaches English to all the neighboring schools. Mum was flying from West Oz to Japan as a birthday present to herself. I left Kauai and stopped through Oahu for a little bit to catch up with my photographer Dave Gregerson, which is always lots of fun, but bad weather and crappy surf meant no chance to get some more surf shots. So after that it was on to Tokyo.
I remember my mum and sister telling
me to pack my thermals because it was snowing.I had a good laugh and reminded them I live on a tropical island! The flight was around 8 hours and I had a small Japanese kid throwing up on the floor in front of me. It was a long flight. As soon as I arrived we went straight to the cherry blossom park in the heart of Tokyo. The trees were in full bloom, a big mass of pink canopy. Thousands of people strolled, sat, drank and socialized beneath the trees. I hadn't been in crowds or cold in a year, I was freezing and grabbing onto my sister in the crowd of people like my life depended on it. As we walked in blur of people, darkness, glowing lights, scents and pinkness a huge gust of wind began blowing. It started RAINING cherry blossoms, like a blanket of delicate pink snow. I felt like I had stepped into another universe.
There is so much I could write about Japan. The food is awesome. My chopstick skills not so much, I was constant comical entertainment for the locals. Japan is the most polite, organised country I have ever been to. It's kinda a little scary. You almost feel like yelling out on the trains or dancing in the streets just to shake up the perfectly robotic machine of society. In downtown Tokyo there is even a method to walking and if you step out of line the whole balance is thrown. The people are incredibly polite and etiquette is very important. As a tourist it's important to learn the little things like no eating or blowing your nose in public. Teaching at school with my sister was great. I had celebrity status. I was mobbed in the hallways by masses of tiny Japanese kids. Everywhere I went I felt like a big, strange blonde giant! Even the hand rails were too small for me.
I have a lot more to tell about Japan, including solo snowboarding missions, bullet train navigations and weird toilets but it's time for a surf break. Trains and Cherry Blossoms Part 2 is coming soon!