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Gad what happened to the month(s)?

Must be the pressure of work. Such a lot has happened including an incredible outing to a very inspirational Digital Divide crossing ceremony at Shongweni, where the DST minister and the people from the Meraka institute, and Ethekwini Municipal library showcased the implementation of “Digital Doorway Phase Two”. This is literally a doorway to a better future, personified for the young people in rural areas – I hold it high as a sign of hope for the future.

And last night I was privileged to hear two presentations – One by Angela Spencer, webmaster / mistress of eThekwini and one by Ramon Thomas, high priest of Blogging! You really need to hear what Ramon has got to say… more later.

What do you know? I won a lovely T-shirt from esquared fashion – http://esquaredfashion.co.za/ – at the Geek’s Dinner in Durban on Friday. They really do lovely work (and some edgy, some provocative, and some rude stuff too :) , and the pure cotton fabric is a treat to wear. My T-shirt is part of a natural range – birds hiding in the grass, and if you look on my right shoulder you’ll see a hummingbird. So here is a delighted customer planning to go back for more. Apparently the blogsphere is a big part of their success. Fascinating.

Eran and Me in my new T-Shirt

Been a while…

Been on dial-up, what can I say? Now have ADSL so stand by…

We’ve been in Japan a week already – hard to believe. Today we started with a Birthday tea for David in the wonderful tea shop on the ground floor of the hotel, called Lupicia. We have been eyeing the cake collection for a week now, and the gracious interior, so decided to treat ourselves.

 Tea Cakes

This was his birthday cake and much more elegant than anything I’ve ever presented!

David's Birthday Cake

Then we set off on foot from the hotel toward Momochi where there is a man-made beach / seaside park; with the objective of catching the ferry to a nearby island called Shikanoshima – where there is another seaside park called Uminonakamichi Seaside Park. The wind was blowing hard, but we were surprised to see no bathing costumes being worn, everyone was fully dressed.

 The sea shore at Momochi

En route to the ferry we bumped into a bridal party, and saw all the guests releasing lots of white balloons and two red heart balloons, followed by the throwing of the bouquet.

Bridal Balloons

It looked very Western, only quite uniform in terms of the men’s clothing (“you can wear any colour suit as long as it’s black….”)

Wedding picture

Then at 13h00 it was time for the ferry to depart, so we boarded for the 20 min trip to Uminonakamichi Seaside Park – on the hovercraft. It was a wild and windy trip but quite fun.

Arriving at the Penninsula

When we arrived we were lucky enough to find a map in English which helped a huge amount, as this is a BIG place. The second thing we did was hire a bicycle each. I must tell you I was last on a bicycle at about age 12, so was a little apprehensive, and glad that there seemed to be plenty of space to wobble around in, on the designated cycle tracks. After handing over y400 each, we chose our bicycles (Dave was a bit too big for any there!), each with a basket to carry our stuff. The deal was that we could return the bikes at any of the Bicycle stations dotted around the park.

On a bike

There were lots of families whizzing around on bikes, the place was a kid’s paradise, and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.

29th – Friday: Nagasaki

What can I say? I felt tremendously sad at the museum there today. Such suffering. If anyone else intends to use the atom bomb, a tour of that museum must be compulsory first. I’ll write more and post pictures tomorrow when I’ve recovered from the experience….

Statue of Remembrance for Women and Children of Nagasaki

Domestic adventures today. Have you ever tried to use a washing machine when the only instructions (and all the button labels) are in Japanese? It is not easy. Thinking all was done I firmly pressed the button that I had finally figured out, opened the door. Out came half of Niagra falls. When I had picked my jaw up off the floor, I shut the door again. Luckily they provide VERY absorbent bath towels here, and the floors are spotless. Even cleaner now.

I gave up and went to the desk to plead for English instructions. The staff were delighted to help and handed over not only english instructions for the washing machine AND the microwave (that should move me off the one button repetoire I had stuck on with the microwave!) Instructions were very clear. However I still ended up with dripping clothes so I hand wrung them in the basin and hung them out on the string that I tie my yoga mat up with.

Finally out shopping to Tenjin. Very expensive so mostly confined myself to window shopping. An interesting experience when in many cases it is hard to know what is being sold unless you can see inside the packaging.

Fukuoka Congress Centre 

Later I met Dave at the conference centre and we went to see the port area nearby

 Scientists in front of the tower at the port

 and from there to the amazing Canal City, a new shopping centre and area for nightlife. What a place. They have a whole (LARGE) shop just dedicated to Pokemons! And a “monument” to the baseball team.

Pokemon Centre

Hawks 

(sorry shots below are sideways due to lack of image processing time – just twist your neck for me….)

 Canal City

The locals come in droves mostly on their bikes,

Bikes around Canal City

and enjoy entertainment, good food and shopping. Late home (about 10pm, the city was still buzzing!) and we have to be up early because we are going to Nagasaki tomorrow. Our hotel has florescent modern art as part of the decoration, shows up really well at night…

Florescent art in the passageways

What a wonderful day, today…alone and wandering through beautiful places, no one expecting me, no rush to get from A to B. Just doing what I want to. I took the subway four stops down to Ohori Park, a green oasis and lake in the city madness, well loved by joggers and dog-walkers. And cyclists, of course.

Cyclists at Ohori park

The park has a lake in the centre, and there is a running track about 2km long around the lake. Lots and lots of people enjoying the outdoors. There is a series of bridges and islands which allow you to cross the lake if you don’t want to go round. Some places you can even fish.

Map of Ohori park

Tucked away in one corner is the most wonderful Japanese Garden, round every corner pure poetry in the trees, water, stones. OK, I know you all think I’m mad, but there’s a lot to be said for the timeless silence of these things. I had the garden all to myself, or else the other visitors there were amazingly discreet. The cool shade was wonderfully contrasted with another blisteringly hot day.

Japanese garden at Ohori park

Waterfall in the Japanese Garden

Of all the trees in the garden only one was going into Autumn colours…I would love to see this garden when they all change to brilliant red.

One tree turning

I’m beginning to realise this sun is worse than the African sun! No wonder all the Japanese women carry umbrellas and wear hats everywhere they go. They have lovely skin and have learned how to keep it that way.

Fukuoka Art Gallery

Finally to the Art Gallery right next door to the Japanese Garden. Some ancient and some modern. I went quickly past most of the modern. Why does it make me feel rather despairing? Whereas the ancient works are inspiring. Maybe I’m just really old fashioned.

I discovered a whole new school of artists I had never heard of, Japanese artists who parallel the impressionists of the West. Their work is amazing.  Many of them paint on silk using very difficult natural materials; also on gold leaf. Tomita Keisen, Imanaka Soyu, Mizukami Taisei. No photos allowed obviously but I found some of their works afterwards on the internet:

Japanese artists

 This is by Ikegami Shuho.

Tomita Keisen

This by Tomita Keisen. Gotta go now Dave downstairs ringing to come in…

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