My first Saturday morning in Japan, I was scheduled to go to Tofukuji Temple. My feet hurt. After covering my blisters with band aides, I now had a second set of blisters next to the first ones.
I considered not following my itinerary and taking the day to shop. I had no idea what the places I was going to were, and didn’t know if I would like them.
When I saw that the following Monday was a whole day of shopping planned for me, (amazing planning by my tour co.) AND that Takashimaya Department store was on the way today, I decided to follow my itinerary.
The last time I went to Japan, one of the people on the tour recommended I get myself to Takashimaya Department store when they open. I did and what a thrill, it is. When the first customers walk in, all the employees are at their stations and say good morning and bow to you. I rode the escalator up and got bows along the way so much that I felt like Queen Elizabeth. I wanted to video tape the experience so I could post it here. When I went inside with my camera running to tape the bowing and greeting; my sense was that my videotaping was a social error. Not wanting to make any more blunders than need be, I stopped taping. Here is a picture of the welcome given by an employee just before opening the doors.
Next, I got myself to the station for a local train line. It was my first train ride on my own. When I got inside the station, there wasn’t any English. I realized to travel in another country where you don’t know the language, you have to be willing to feel stupid.
Being dyslexic, I am no stranger to that feeling. I tried pushing buttons on a machine and succeeded in having the station master come out to see what I was doing. I showed him in English where I wanted to go and he pantomimed how to buy the ticket. It is very easy once you know.
I was off and arrived at my destination station. I walked to Tofukuji. When I go to places I haven’t been before, I don’t know what exactly I am looking for. It’s all a surprise. I started by chasing down every possible turn. So, after taking three turns and backtracking, before finding the one I needed, I changed to thinking the next turns would be apparent. So now I went too far up a hill, until I found a person to ask. My feet were screaming at me.
Was it all worth it? OMG, yes. Tofukuji is a beautiful Monastery. Truth is, I was out of sorts when I got there. In a way, I am glad I was, because I got to feel more and more connected to my peacefulness as I walked through the gardens.
Shanti, shanti, shanti.
© 2011 Jeanne Litt, All rights reserved.