I took a full day excursion to Nagasaki and Arita because I wanted to have lunch (included in the all-day tour) and rest my foot. I took my cane and left Minnie. A mistake, but I needed the support.
I have never seen such perfectly manicured lawns, streets, private and public places, even the highways and farms, as I saw in Nagasaki and Arita. Arita, almost 2 hours' drive north (?) of Nagasaki, is a porcelain centre and we were supposed to see a factory in operation but it was a Sunday (April 19) and everything was closed. However, we did get to a porcelain museum and a porcelain gift store - "Outret" as the guide called it. The streets of the small (20,000 people) city were empty, allowing us a clearer view of the beautiful grooming evident everywhere. A blue and white porcelain fish, looking more like a dragon than a fish, perched on a rock in a pond in the centre of a perfect little garden in front of the museum and a globe light on a blue and white porcelain column by the door made me wish for twilight to see it aglow. Actually, we approached a dusky light as the day progressed and the sprinkle of a shower turned into a pelting rain by the time we reached Nagasaki and the Peace Park. I'll get to that.
I bought a couple of jollies in the Outret Store - can't tell you what, because grandchildren may be reading this. The price was right whereas the prices at the museum store were prohibitive. I was going to buy an eggcup (blue and white, of course) but in US dollars it cost $68 and I thought that was too rich for my morning egg.
Lunch was interesting, too generous and not very Japanese. The ship made up for it a night later by offering a huge Japanese buffet dinner and I had sake with my sushi.
By the time we arrived at the Peace Park, as I said, the rain was drenching. I went out, anyway. I was 14 years old when VJ Day ended World War Two, in August, you may remember. i celebrated with my lost generation, too young to participate in the war, by having a bonfire on the beach where we vegged out that summer. I wanted to see the gigantic statue erected in memory -- well, maybe not in memory of the horrendous bomb; perhaps in hope of peace everlasting?
I wore a waterproof shell but I huddled under a very large umbrella with a woman who responded to my comment on my age with the information that she had been four years old, born in the Phillipines. She recalled the horror of the ensuing years and the starvation and deprivation and fear. She escaped to Chicago for training and has lived in Cincinnati for 30 years.
I was very moved.
The next day I went to Kagoshima and what a contrast between what we were offered: peace and horror, both retroactive. We went to the homes and gardens of the Samurai, of the last Samurai, and Tom Cruise was not among them. I took Minnie and not my cane and I took some pictures. I will try to send you a beautiful garden. We were also taken to a museum dedicated to the honour of the Kamikaze pilots who even after The Bomb had been dropped, kept on sacrificing themselves to a hopeless cause. I could not bear to go in. Kamikaze pilots were that time's terrorists: young, young zealots who believed or were forced into a cause catering to their eager, fiery faith.
We missed cherry brossom time; come back April first for a week to see them. But the azareas (azaleas) were in bloom.
Today, I have had a lot to assimilate, not finished yet. I may have to consider my fellow travellers soon, but perhaps that should stay in my journal. I have to consider me, too. I think I am disintegrating, all my high-minded resolutions and goals. I am becoming an out-and-out hedonist. This afternoon I went to a wine-tasting event. It was very informative and I have slept it off in time to go to the specialty Italian restaurant tonight. I hope it's warm enough and calm enough to resume my morning swim or I am in deep trouble.