Tag Archives: Adventure

The Geography of Now {An Online Course}

bus stop

i
A calmly golden morning
at my bus stop.
A Tuesday.
A man reads his book
as if sitting in his own
living room.

This is the Japan I love best,
the Japan that few outside the country
talk or write about.

There are certain places in Japan
that get love
out of proportion.
Shibuya Crossing
where thousands traverse
each minute.
Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion
the house Zeus would have chosen
had he been Japanese.

Those are the rock stars.

Myself,
I’ve always been a fan of the poets.

I love the secret corners
of Japan
where proud home
and business owners
grow red geraniums.
I love to watch conveyor belts
at sushi bars,
ballet for raw fish,
as small pastel coloured plates
shuttle by
on repeat
and try and try to earn my love.
hello, hello, hello.
I love that even the line
in the grocery store
is a study in restraint
and courtesy.

The Japan of the gloriously mundane,
this is my Geography of Now.

As a woman living outside her country,
my acts of observing and recording
help me
occupy
this particular time and place.

Although I am an outsider in Japan,
gaijin,
I still belong here
in my own way,
in a manner that is entirely my own.

This is my Japan.

ii
I’m in a state of wondering.

I’ve been wondering
if others feel affected
and enchanted
by their Geography of Now?

And I’ve been wondering
if others
{YOU, actually}
might wish to explore
this form I use,
this pairing of photos
with words
{skinny prose, I call it}
to create a record
of your neighbourhood + home
for yourself,
family + friends
and those you don’t yet know.
A chronicle of who you are
and who you are becoming.

I’ve been wondering
if you would like to join me
in an online course
on the Geography of Now,
a small adventure
with low risk photography
accompanied by
skinny
prose.

It’s true… I have not yet
worked out all the details,
the widgets and squidgets and such,
but what I know for sure
is that the course will be fun
and affordable
and make us feel more connected
both to where and who we are.

So I’m releasing this idea
into the universe.
A red balloon.

Please leave me a comment,
a little love note,
if you might like to join me.

Thank you very much.
{Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.}

Postcards from Japan (2)

{Square postcard. Extra postage required.}

Dear mom,

Everyone has their own idea of being pampered. In Thailand, many expats love getting a massage, manicure or pedicure. Partly that’s because these services are inexpensive and they are everywhere. You’ll probably recognize these massage mats from Pak Chiang Mai in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

These particular luxuries are not important to me.

Perhaps it’s because we’re Canadian (and that I was raised right!) but the way that I want to be pampered is to be treated with courtesy and care.

During our week in Japan every desk clerk, waiter and store clerk did their best to help us in a polite and efficient manner.

I get that this might not be everyone’s idea of sexy but, for me, Japanese courtesy is heavenly. (I think you’ll like it too when you come to visit us next year!)

Love,
Monna

P.S. For Postcard 1, click here.

Postcards from Japan (1)

Dear mom,

Given the three weeks that it normally takes for mail to travel from South East Asia to Canada, this seems like the best possible way to share my postcards with you. (Having said that, the Japanese are so amazingly efficient that they may have invented postal time travel that allows post cards to arrive at their destination before you have actually sent them!)

We arrived in Yokohama on the afternoon of Monday 11 April to visit the city and school that we’ll start calling home in August. This is the lovely view of the harbour and downtown Yokohama from our hotel room. About an hour after we arrived, we experiences our first earthquake – a 7.4 in the North. This was my fourth earthquake; the others were in Cali in Colombia, Ottawa and Bangkok just a few weeks ago. Do you remember how you and I both felt shaky after the earthquake in Ottawa last summer? Weirdly, I didn’t experience the same fear/relief in Yokohama. DP and I opened the door to the hotel room and stood in the hallway outside our bathroom where there was nothing that could fall off the walls or tip over. The shaking lasted for about 30 seconds.

A few minutes later, the front desk called us to check that we were okay.  DP said, “Yes, we’re fine. Should we come down?” (We were on the 9th floor.) The front desk clerk assured us that it was perfectly safe to stay in our room.

Shortly afterward, we met a friend and went out to dinner and to an IB art exhibit for our new school.

In spite of experiencing one of the strongest earthquakes felt in Yokohama since 11 March 2011, we have both begun to fall in love with Yokohama and with the Japanese people who treated us with great respect and care.

Love,
Monna

Dreaming of Cherry Blossoms

{Photo Credit: Another side of yukita}
This photograph makes me so happy. I went looking for a photograph of cherry blossoms on Flickr’s Creative Commons and found this gorgeous shot which, coincidentally, was taken by Yokohama photographer Masayuki Takaku. You can check out his photographs of this year’s sakura (cherry blossom) season here.

Why is the image of cherry trees in bloom so universally appealing? The blossoms signal the beginning of spring and symbolize new birth… a fresh start. After the long winter, the world explodes in a riot of pink softness and abundance. I believe that the new blossoms inspire feelings of hope in us and that sign of hope is particularly significant for Japan this year.

DP and I leave for Yokohama, Japan on Sunday; we have an amazing opportunity to visit to our new school. I will spend a few mornings with the current Grade 11 and 12 counselor and possibly meet some of the current students. (Wow… I have butterflies of excitement and nervousness about meeting the new kids!) In the evenings, we’ll hang out with friends, get acquainted with Yokohama and perhaps we’ll even see the apartment that we are taking over from the same lovely woman whose Bangkok apartment we moved into when we arrived in Thailand two years ago.

Of course, while we’re in Japan, we’d love to see the cherry blossoms. I’ve read that the cherry trees are blooming a bit later than normal because of the cold weather. According to this site, the estimated best viewing dates in Yokohama are April 6-14.

Although I’m an optimist by nature, I honestly don’t know if the cherry blossoms will be able to wait for us. It’s okay. A year from now, we’ll be living in Yokohama and perhaps we’ll be sitting beneath a light pink hanabi-awning with friends we have not yet met. I feel hopeful… about the blossoms and about living in Japan.


{Photo Credit: domat33f}

If you’re going to be in Tokyo in the next week, Time Out Tokyo recommends the following locations and creative spots for your hanami party:

For more Monday dream, visit The Mother of all Trips.

What or where are you dreaming of this week?