I write this from Okayama, Japan, having first flown 3000 miles east from California to give a talk to the assembled masses at the fabulous Syracuse library in New York: thank you, everyone who invited me, and all of you wh turned out to hear me. I can only hope my voice did not quaver too much at the daunting sea of faces, and that my talk made something resembling sense.
The flight from Syracuse to Toronto was on a plane so tiny, there was no door to the cockpit, and the first officer doubled as the flight attendant, minus the refreshments. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a pilot at work, and it was great to see the view out of the front.
After a too-long layover in Toronto, Air Canada enveloped us in its shiny new and considerably larger plane, and bounced and rattled through the dregs of the non-typhoon that smashed through Japan the day before, touching down some untold number of hours later at Narita.
Various nice people helped me buy a ticket and find the right train, and off we set towards Tokyo, through suburbs and towns, past ten thousand tiny rice paddies and vegetable patches that nestled into every scrap of ground possible, with the occasional undulating green lines of tea, following the contours of the hills. And where in my area oak and evergreens would grow, here were timber bamboo, some patches of which were being harvested.
Shiny tile roofs where my eyes are accustomed to shingle, with prominent ridges and steep to shed the snow–many of them were fixed with the electrical heating cables that discourage lethal build-ups.
Tokyo station was a chaos of building projects and rushing people, but whenever I stood frowning at a map, someone would ask if they could help, and although I took a rather roundabout path to the Marunouchi Metropolitan hotel (past at least ten other buildings named Marunouchi) I found it, and my room, and that item that symbolized Japan to the Western eye, the toilet with the heated seat.
My next house-renovation plans have already been revised…