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Richard’s cherry blossom tour to Japan

Cherry Blossoms

Richard where are you? Has anyone seen Richard?

Sorry folks I can’t be with you – it’s Cherry Blossom Time. And what’s more – it’s only 6am here in Japan. Give us a break! Cheryl and I are taking a well-earned holiday. Did I say holiday? Well here we are at 6am, the alarm has already gone off and we have an action packed two weeks ahead of us.

So don’t call me! I’ll call you!

The first thing we noticed is the efficiency and friendliness of the Japanese people! We can learn so much from the Japanese culture and way of doing business. Our luggage is checked. Breakfast noodles are great. Who could picture me eating noodles for breakfast? Go with the flow Richard! That’s the Buddhist tradition. But never mind that now. All will be checked off and ready to go when the bus leaves exactly on time at 7am. Not a chance of anyone being left behind!

We are welcomed on the bus by our smiling, gracious and oh so efficient tour guide and driver. As the bus begins to leave we see the hotel staff all lined up to bid us farewell. They bow and wave as we leave. It’s like a scene from Downton Abbey. Our sense of wellbeing rises by the moment and I’m totally won over.
Let the tour begin!

First stop – yes – Mount Fuji! Here I can understand why every Japanese person wishes to climb to the top of this sacred mountain. It pulls you in with a special feeling. It’s not the biggest mountain, but it seems perfect in shape and size – making you feel at one with nature and the beauty of the planet we live in.

Another important element to the Japanese is water, and the ritual of bathing. If you go to Japan you really should take a bath. Cheryl chickened out when she discovered that this is done butt naked – and not alone. Luckily they did find a bathroom big enough for me to take off my clothes. And so, unburdened by such modesty (and of course wishing to reveal my buffed up bod…if only!) I took the jump into the icy cold water in view of Mount Fuji. The shock of the cold is followed by a plunge into the steaming hot water of a geyser. Away we go again running outside and into the cold water then back into a steam room.

No one bats an eyelid. We are all the same – fat, thin, short or tall! Just people! It is the custom and I find myself standing naked with other bathers while dainty young Japanese ladies hit us with towels and brushes. What a great opportunity to experience Japanese culture. Yes the blood is circulating just fine! How exhilarating! Can this be good for you I wonder? Be still my beating heart…but not too still! Thank goodness it does continue to beat and so I live to tell this tale.

During our two weeks in Japan we travelled through the countryside, visiting gardens, temples and more temples…..  while on the road our wonderful girl guide entertained us with lessons in origami and teaching us how to count in Japanese. Grace, beauty and efficiency marked the countryside the sites and the people everywhere we went.

Being in the transport business I was especially fascinated with a tour of the Toyota factory. What a huge and impressive operation! Literally a piece of metal entered at the start of the assembly line and a car appeared at the other end. And all of it was done by robots and a few technicians. I remember working on an assembly line in one of my many jobs. I lasted three days and still can’t forget the monotony of that job.

And the food! Everywhere we dined on beautiful food and experienced the artistry and perfectionism of Japanese food culture. I have to admit a little hankering for a steak though. In one hotel Cheryl ordered a cup of tea. First the Manger appeared and bowed with a big smile and then the Head Waiter followed with a bow and a big smile. We were given two little cups and served a pot of some kind of herbal tea – the most expensive cup of tea that I have ever had.

But now the “holiday” is over. Already it seems like a dream and it’s back to my lovely staff and customers, not to mention the house renovations. So I’ll take a lesson from Japan and keep smiling

But I need a rest first!