|Tropical Japan - that is, Okinawa|
- Taking off my shoes to go indoors, and padding about in socks or bare feet on tatami mats. And I love those shoji paper screens in old houses.
- Kewpie mayonnaise (when I was little I longed for a Kewpie doll, don’t ask me why. Now I can look at one every day on the cute squeeze-me Kewpie mayo bottle).
- In fact all Japanese food. Rice, soba, sashimi, okinomiyaki (Osaka pancake), teriyaki whatever, you name it.
- Sitting on the floor, at low tables (after living in Japan, I actually made a desk for myself out of a wooden door, which I sanded and varnished and stacked on four milk crates, so I could kneel at my laptop; it was more comfortable than sitting in a chair – until my knees started hurting. I still use the same door/desk, with an ergonomic chair).
- Being quiet and appreciating simple things like the changing colours of autumn leaves or a pair of chopsticks resting on a bowl. Japanese attention to detail is second to none.
- People seem so considerate of each other, which makes daily life so easy. That attitude of humility extends into service too: last week, in Okinawa, I bought a chocolate bar in a convenience store; the lady behind the counter bowed deeply and said a solemn "arigato gozaimashita" (thank you very much). That's Japan.
- How safe it is there – when I lived in Miyazaki, the postman used to put our letters on the step inside our front door (!), and my flatmate and I didn’t even have a key to the house.
Of course there are things I don’t like about Japan. But let's not confuse the actions of a few (politicians, whale-hunters) with the daily lives of many. And nowhere is perfect. Even in Okinawa this time, I kept wondering how much energy could be saved if they didn’t have heated toilet seats or use disposable wooden chopsticks.
|Not the Hawkesbury River, NSW -|
a lake in northern Okinawa
In Okinawa I saw beautiful beaches and untouched forests, met a young couple running a "slow farm" and spent a morning in a conservation area that takes up pretty much the top quarter of Okinawa's main island. Stay tuned for a proper Okinawa post soon.