Colin is a good story teller, a convincing one. I'm sure whatever he shared with us about Japanese history, her values and practices accurately reflect the truth. These are what I learnt yesterday:
1. Sakura or cherry blossom was not of Japanese origin. They were brought over from the Himalayas a thousand years ago and adopted as its national flower. Likewise the Japanese didn't claim to have founded the art of soy sauce making but credited the Chinese. In fact they credited a lot to China - language, philosophy, attire, family values and art and calligraphy, among other things.
2. The Japanese consider spring a very important national festival. Everything is centered around spring - marriage, starting a career, start of school and university semesters, moving houses and many other major life events they want to hold them in spring.
3. Japan forbid the use of cheap foreign labour including domestic maids and factory workers. She encourages locals and students to find jobs to be self sustaining.
4. Japan place great emphasis on quality of family and education. Japanese wives would not work when they start having children but focus on raising them with good education and family values. The husbands are sole income providers while the wives look after the well-being of the families. Wives sacrifice their lives for the betterment of the whole Japanese society.
5. Japanese are great believers and practitioners of perfection. They copied as much as they can but improve upon what they copied. They pay great attention to designs, shapes, colors and arrangements. They are forerunners in industrial and scientific designs and technologies.
6. The Japanese appreciate nature, peacefulness, inner and external balance and tranquility. They believe in honesty and trust building and would not be abusive or ill-tempered.
Today we enjoyed our breakfast in the hotel before moving out to Osaka to see the famous Osaka Castle before continuing into Nara for lunch. As we didn't have time to tour the castle we toured the castle park instead and took an number of photos for remembrance. At Nara we had our first lunch seated Japanese style i.e. on tatami mats. Some of the tour members find it difficult cross-legging so was glad when told this is the only time we will eat this way. After lunch we had the chance to buy souvenirs downstairs. It was there I accidentally dropped my Canon Powershot S100 but fortunately it dented a corner and not crack the LCD screen. Nara is well known for its deer park where some 1200 wild sika deers roam freely. Inside the Nara Park is the famous Todaiji Temple which we visited.
Our next stop was Kyoto which is an hour away but due to the weekend traffic towards the Kiyomizu-deraTemple (an UNESCO world cultural heritage site) the journey took an extra half hour. The access to the temple is via a narrow alley lined on both sides by souvenir and snack shops. I almost disconnected with my group and was relieved to spot the flag held high by Colin.
The tour today ended when we were driven to Gifu just over 2 hours away north-east from Kyoto. Temperature is getting cooler as we headed towards the mountain area. We stayed at the Hotel Resol Gifu tonight.
For pictures of today's tour please check my Facebook album HERE.