Monday, December 27, 2010

the colors of Kyoto Botanical Gardens in Spring

By Carole Ann Goldsmith Copyright ©All Rights Reserved

Visiting the Kyoto Botanical gardens is one of the delights of being in Kyoto in Spring (April). Wander under the canopy of cherry blossom trees along the river as locals celebrate the Sakura (Cherry blossom festival).

View the magnificent multi coloured flowers on display or have a picnic in the treed area.  I spent hours wandering the garden, painting a picture of the flowers while joining the many other artists in the gardens celebrating spring.

Many of the Kyoto Buses stop at the Botanical Gardens,  ask at the bus centre next to Kyoto station for a bus map and details of buses that go to the Kyoto Botanical Gardens.  Take a picnic and be ready to relax in the colours of spring.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Steak, chips and vegies for dinner Lake Shikotsuko - Hokkaido

Carole Ann Goldsmith Copyright © 2010 All Rights Reserved

When I visited the beautiful Lake Shikotsuko in Hokkaido, I stayed at the Shikotsuko Youth Hostel ,  a wonderful A - framed building with a great view of the Lake.

When I arrived, the hostel manager, a very friendly happy man, was telling jokes in Japanese to his guests from around the world. I soon joined the joke group and before long we were all roaring with laughter, even though we could not really understand everything he was saying. His laughter was certainly infectious as he was very animated when telling the jokes. Then I went for an afternoon leisurely walk around the magnificent lake beside the forest. A little hungry,  I bought some barbequed corn on sale from the lakeside market vendors.

The hostel staff were preparing dinner for the guests, when I returned to the hostel. I could smell the aromas from bowls of delicious looking Sukiyaki (Japanese meat and vegetable stew in a light broth) being cooked on the hot gas flames. Yum, I thought to myself, I was certainly looking forward to that delicious meal at 6PM after my natural hot spring bath at the hostel

All squeaky clean, I was feeling very relaxed after being immersed in the hot spa waters. Now it was dinner time and I was really looking forward to eating that sukiyaki, with freshly cooked rice and miso soup, that I had seen the hostel manager serving to the other guests.

All of a sudden the Hostel manager arrived at our table, which I was sharing with 5 other people. The manager said, "Carole san, it is your birthday today, and we have a special meal for you". He had arrived with a tray of plates each covered with grilled steak, potato chips (fries) and a small salad..The table was decked with knives and forks, while the other tables had chop sticks for the sukiyaki.

I am not really a steak, chips and salad person and would have really preferred the sukiyaki. I did however really appreciate the trouble that he had gone to to make a special dish for my birthday and for our table. Also I am not sure how the other people on my table felt, as they were probably also expecting sukiyaki.

This lovely meal was followed by a huge birthday cake, complete with candles all alight for everyone at the hostel to enjoy. Then everyone sang Happy Birthday to me. After dinner, the hostel manager told some more jokes in Japanese and soon we had tears in our eyes from continuously laughing at his jokes, all told in Japanese. His energy and enthusiasm for making the hostel a fun place to be,provided us all with some very happy days at Shikotsuko. I will always remember my fun and happy birthday and the hilarious time we had a Shikotsuko Youth Hostel beside the beautiful Shikotsuko Lake Shikotsuko in Spring.
Many thanks to the manager at the time for making my trip to Shikotsuko such a great time.

Japan's green corporate power steams ahead

Carole Goldsmith Copyright © 2010 All Rights Reserved

Eighteen of Japan's corporate leaders report, in a compelling book titled Japan’s Green Comeback - Future visions of the men who made Japan, the initiatives implemented in their company and the community, to help save the environment.

Published in 2000, by Pelanduk Publications and edited by Tadahiro Mitsuhashi, with translations by Junko Edahoro, Nathan Wilson and Danielle Wilson, the publication provides an insight by Japan business leader into the visions for the future of their company and the environment. Among the companies represented are Toyota, Sanwa Bank, Fuji-Xerox, East Japan Railway, Taiheiyo Cement, Shiseido, Aeon Group - JUSCO, Tokyo Electric Power Company and other leading organisations. This is a must read for global business leaders and for everyone concerned with the environment - and aren’t we all

Green corporate power examples include: Sanwa Bank Limited Midori Fund which has been set up to plant trees. Over the past 27 years, it has planted 800,000 trees at over 13,000 locations including schools and homes for the aged. Major shopping centre developer JUSCO has also planted 2.54 million trees at around 192 shopping centres.

See Also

Waste Reduction and Recycling - Cuts Costs (Australia - Japan)

Toyota's new assembly line to cut emissions

The “Losto” Locker at Tokyo Station

By Carole Goldsmith Copyright © 2010 All Rights Reserved

Arriving at Tokyo Station from Narita airport, (the first time a few years ago), I was very excited to explore Tokyo for the first time. “The buzzing city, that never closes”, that was how my friends had described Tokyo. This was also my first trip to Japan on my own and I was extra excited about the adventure of traveling around the country and seeing traditional Japan.

As I could not book into my hotel until 2.00 P.M., I had four hours to check out the sights around Tokyo Station. With a small suitcase and day pack, plus feeling a little tired from the nine hour trip from Australia, I went in search of lockers. There was block of lockers just nearby so I rushed over and placed my suitcase in the locker. The locker fee was Y500 for four hours, just the right time, I thought to myself.

I held the locker key in my hot little hand and placed it securely inside the pocket of my day pack. Off I went, out of one of the station’s exits, (not really noticing which exit I had left from). Armed with my map of Tokyo, complete with a subway guide, I headed off to explore the surrounding area. Wow, the subway was a maze of colour coded train lines and I somehow managed to figure out how to get to the tourist attractions by subway, not far from the station.

At 1.45 PM,, I returned to Tokyo Station to collect my suitcase from the locker. I extracted the locker key from my backpack and started looking for the locker. Not having any idea which exit I had left from and not really sure which entrance I came in, I looked around in amazement . Where on earth was the locker that I had my suitcase in? I looked at the number and looked at the lockers ahead of me and tried to match up my key with the locker. No, my locker key’s number was no where to be found. This started the nightmare of looking for the lost locker at Tokyo Station.

Here I was in Tokyo, my first day of travelling alone in Japan, I could not find my suitcase. I wandered around the station, went in and out of exits, trying to find something familiar. After an hour of unsuccessful searching for the chosen locker, I stood in the central area of some part of Tokyo station and just burst out crying. I was talking to myself and uttering some silent obscenities under my tongue and saying out loud “losto locker” – I thought to myself – maybe someone will understand my Japanese English – or Janglish. Almost immediately, I was surrounded by a group of around eight Japanese ladies, who seemed very concerned about me, sitting in the middle of Tokyo station and bawling my eyes out.

Hmmm… I did not see anyone else doing this, so maybe it was not really the done thing to do at Tokyo Station.

One of the ladies asked me in perfect English – “Can I help you?” I was in a very distraught emotional state by now and their offer of assistance made me even more frustrated. I could not tell them what was wrong in Japanese as my skills in communicating in their language were almost non existent, at the time. I waved my locker key in the air and between sobs of “losto locker”, I looked at them in a state of absolute panic. In a matter of seconds, they had called a policeman over from his police box.

I initially thought – now I am getting arrested – so I sobbed even louder. But the policeman was there to help me find my locker. He looked at the number on my locker key and smiled. Together, the policeman, the eight ladies and I following, proceeded to the “losto locker”. Within thirty seconds, the wonderful policeman found my locker. I opened it, feeling very relieved, and extracted from my suitcase, a bag of little koala souvenirs from Australia. After many “thank you very much” or “domo arigato gozaimashita .” I gave all the ladies a little toy koala and a slightly larger koala toy to the policeman. They all seemed very happy with the gift and I was certainly extremely excited to be reunited with my luggage.

The ladies then invited me for afternoon tea, which I offered to pay for, but no, they all wanted to find out about Australia as they were all travelling to Sydeney and Goldo Coasto the next month. And that was the nightmare of the lost locker at Tokyo station.

The moral of the story is to always, check the exit that your locker is near at Tokyo Station