In 1975 my daughter, Lorraine, and I spent three weeks holidaying in Japan. Of course, we were at a disadvantage, not speaking the language, but found the Japanese people extremely polite, eager to understand us and offered their help on many occasions.
In Tokyo, we registered with an organisation that arranged for foreign travellers to meet and spend time with local families of similar interests. We wanted to experience the culture and customs of this country first hand. There we were interviewed and placed with a local family where we spent a wonderful day. Their son, who spoke a little English, was a school teacher, and he and Lorraine had much to talk about and enjoyed exchanging information about the different school systems. We felt we had been afforded quite a privilege when they dressed us in their beautiful kimonos. They were a lovely family, very hospitable, and we were treated with generosity and respect. Even to spend one day with a family who was willing to open their home to complete strangers was an honour and privilege.
While in Tokyo, we went to a Kabuki theatre to see a stage play – a very colourful and melodramatic production, told in the art of song and dance. The actors wore elaborate face masks and brightly coloured costumes, and there was much exaggerated gesturing, shouting and cavorting around the stage. The audience was very vocal, participating with much clapping and loud shouts of encouragement and approval ... a vastly different experience to attending a stage play at home. It was a thoroughly enjoyable, even though we didn’t have the slightest idea of what the story was all about.
We travelled on the bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka – a five-hundred-kilometre trip which took just three hours; half the time of the previous diesel train journey. It was fast, clean and efficient, and used amazing technology for that time.
Osaka and Kyoto were stunning places to visit. Kyoto especially is steeped in culture and history. The atmosphere of the many shrines, temples and their gardens, if visited on a quiet time of day without many tourists, was very serene.