Andrew’s world in Japan

Andrew Artist & researcher based in KL since 2009, passionately exploring the creative process &connecting with other creative people.

What’s it worth to you?

andrewVacation amenities

Having options in life seems to come natural for some people. Others, it doesn’t seem to matter how much or little money they have in their corner. Being trapped in societal norms and expectations is what many claim keeps our world running smoothly. The option to travel may not actually be a luxury, although I certainly see it as an opportunity to be respected. Not everyone can realistically partake. Blessing or curse, travel is my lifeblood, budget or not. More often the former which tends to activate my mechanisms of restraint. So, numerous elements of touring about are more likely ignored if they don’t involve basic food, drink and viewing. When you make a visit to Venice, Italy, it may cost you $20 to $50 dollars to ride through the classic canals in a gondola. Hawaii boasts helicopter fl ights over active fuming volcanoes. Jump over to this columns reason for being in Senyum and we arrive in Japan. At many historic cities, you can have a guided tour in a human pulled ‘jinrikisha’ or commonly known as andrew2rickshaw. At roughly ¥1500 yen per hour per head, this is typically the option I’d forgo as a frivolous tourist trap. Maybe that’s just a sad cynical attitude. I am glad that in this instance, my friend insisted on introducing me to this experience, and I relented. I’ll admit, it took at least 20 minutes for the ‘money’ part to submerge into my mind so I could enjoy this experience. Not far from Tokyo is a naturally protected city that functioned as a sort of de-facto capitol. It even found such success as to have a period named after it. With a nearby beach coupled with historic temples, bamboo zen gardens and beautiful views, Kanagawa prefecture’s Kamakura is a spectacular one of a kind destination. Kamakura’s beginning’s are shrouded in many myths and confl icting memories. It is generally excepted that shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo selected the location to serve as his base because of its geographic layout. Locked in by three steep hills and the ocean, our rickshaw tour host spent an hour explaining some history highlights while running us to picturesque locations. Our fi rst visit was to Egara Tenjin Shrine, known to house the spirit of famous scholar and politician Sugawara no Michizana. We’re informed here to guide our prayers toward any intellectual pursuits. Students often make the journey to visit and pray here prior to fi nal exams. As we fl ow about, pausing here and there for those photo opportunities and tidbits of history, our guides smile and excitement is almost unnerving. Can he really enjoy this? It certainly feels like it. For all the stories and history he enthusiastically shared, I wonder how I could be so against the idea of these kinds of tourist activities. He delivers us to Hōkoku-ji, the bamboo forest. Then we proceed to imbibe in possibly the most expensive but beyond delicious cup of green tea ever put to these lips. Although there are several mountain passes that connect Kamakura to the world beyond, it is the “seven mouths” bringing fi ne visitors like myself to these parts. From the beginning, this city was designed and built with ‘feng shui’ in mind. In my book, this constitutes a living artwork. Everything has a meaning. All the way down to a series of ponds at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu. Todays go-to info source, the internet, reveals almost everything. Sitting in this bumpy ‘jinrikisha,’ listening to our guide share history with us, when fully embraced, matters of cost are truly nil. Today, you can pull up others experiences on youtube. You can just walk around by yourself, even hire a taxi or tour van. The most important part is to open your eyes, ears and heart. Make a visit to somewhere, and embrace the local culture, if only for a moment.

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