I have been thinking a lot about Japan this week. I met the Secretary of State (for AZ) yesterday. He, too, served as a missionary in Japan years ago. We had a brief, stilting (on my part) conversation in Japanese, and he seemed to have adored the country as much as I did.
A couple of weeks ago I decided I was going to check out Google Plus. It's still not capturing me as a social media snag-of-all-my-time, which I should be thankful for, and I might go back and check out my circles sometime, but for now I have to say one really spectacular find did come out of my venture into Google Parts Unknown. It made me stumble across Shoot Tokyo.
Shoot Tokyo is a blog of a guy, Dave Powell, who lives in Tokyo and goes to different neighborhoods and takes pictures and posts them and comments on them. A post a day. So many of his pictures for me are what I'd call in Japanese "natsukashii," or nostalgic~. They make me sigh and wish I could see that beautiful place again.
Maybe a zillion people will buy my sumo wrestling book and I can use the proceeds to take my family to see Japan. Wouldn't that be a dream?
One post of his in particular was a doozie on my nostalgia-ometer. It is of an alley in a neighborhood called Shinjuku, which is where I lived. This is yakitori alley, a narrow, narrow street where they sell yakitori (cooked bird/chicken on a stick. Tender meat, soy and sesame seasonings, salty perfection.) Since I spent so much of my time in that city on foot walking around meeting people, this is the Tokyo I saw very often. It was warm, with smiling faces, friendly merchants, giggling school girls, grinning grandmas, good feelings.
I loved Japan. I still love it. The Japanese people I met were more than kind to me, they were embracing. It's a beautiful place for a thousand reasons. I had to write a novel about Japan--and I hope when the book comes out that those who read it get a similar sense of wonder. My goal was to take readers on a virtual trip to the islands of the rising sun, tell them a story, and let them dream. I hope I succeeded, even in a small measure.