I haven't posted for quite a while because I've been in Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, and a few other spots). The trip was a wonderful way to celebrate finishing my PhD and was a fantastic gift from my husband's dad. It's a good thing we're not in the year of the monkey or I'd be broke. There were pig/boar doo-dads and trinkets everywhere. I would love to be in Japan or China for the year of the monkey next time it rolls around! That's 9 years away - leaving plenty of time to save up :-)
Although I got back on Sunday, I am still out of sync with local time. I keep waking up in the middle of the night wide awake and then I sleep in - the first day until 1 pm, then 9 am, then 11 am... I should return to a regular schedule soon. One really pleasant thing about waking up in the middle of the night is that I invariably wake up to the sounds of the wind chimes I bought in Japan.
Below is what a typical for-sale display looks like. Note the paper strips hanging from each bell. The paper strips should be left on because they help catch the wind to make the bell chime. The bells and their sounds are a symbol of summer throughout Japan and are called furin. Their sound is believed to be cooling, which in Japan during the summer, is very welcome as days are hot and humid. The bells don't actually cool the house but they do signal that a breeze is present. The psychologist in me sees this as a perfect, indeed, classical example of conditioning.
This morning I made myself go outside as soon as I woke up to make sure I got a healthy dose of sunshine to cure my jet lag. I also have an exceedingly pathetic garden to attend to so it was easy to spend a few hours outside! There is nothing like going to a place famous for its gardens, soaking up the beauty of them for two weeks, and then returning to your overgrown, weedy yard to give you inspiration to prune and plant!
Before I get carried away with a rambling post on Japanese gardening, of which I know little about but am now very appreciative of, I'll just say that in days and no doubt weeks to come I will write topical posts about what I saw in Japan.
Here's a taste of what's to come:
* Japanese women's fashion (high heels, skirts, handbags, etc - especially the SHOES!)
* the fish market (giant tuna, crabs, eels, unidentifiable sea life - I have a video!)
* environmental concerns
* my exprience hand feeding baby monkeys at Arashiyama
* Western vs. Japanese style toilets
* Japanese gardens
* the "plum rains"
* compact everything
* dealing with germs
* Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples
* how women stay pale & why
* green tea