Japan - A Fantasy in Two Acts

Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Thursday, November 4, 2010

I wrote previously, half jokingly, about Beth calling me the worst travel companion but now, as we approach our last few days in Japan and reflect on the experience I am inclined to agree with her. We met up with Carl today - one of our trans-Mongolian companions - who had just arrived in Japan after exhausting his 30day Chinese visa. Beth, tired and run-down after a sleepless journey on the overnight bus from Tokyo to Kobe, crashed out in the room and did not join us for a meal. It was great to be with someone so enthusiastic, looking at the place with fresh eyes and so up for the experiences that lay ahead of him but I came away feeling like a grumpy old man, a soured cynic.
When we were in the group you watched what you said to a degree. You held your tongue and remained positive for the sake of the shared experience. But since it has just been Beth and me, I have felt free to voice those flippant remarks. I dish them out off-hand and forget about them. They slide off me but do not drag me down. Or at least I didn't think they did. But they do taint the mood, sour the shared experience and what for me is just an observation or an interesting play of words swells into being the words that were said at the time when we were at that place.
For Beth, Japan has been a childhood fantasy. With its complex culture of delicate and refined crafts, its exquisite ceramics and papers, its origami and No theatre, its tea ceremony and sublime lacquer-ware. It is a fantasy - but what is so wrong with a fantasy? It is a fantasy which my snide remarks have beaten with a stick called reality, a fantasy my crude observations have dragged into the light and systematically picked apart. What sort of a person would do that? What sort of a person would rob the one they love of their childhood dreams?

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