August is the hottest and the most humid month in Japan. No surprise that most foreigners try to escape wherever they can, preferably to a more human-friendly climate zone. If you were wondering about the silence and no blog updates lately, I was doing a mini Asia tour, but given that it was mostly for work, I had to leave my personal laptop with all my blog notes at home. Nevertheless, a few discoveries and observations from the last month I would like to share with you:
If you have ever been to Japan, you will probably know the three wise monkeys at Toshogu Shrine in Nikko. Carved out of wood on the Stable of the Sacred Horse, they are said to represent Mizaru (see no evil), Iwazaru (speak no evil) and Kikazaru (hear no evil). The repeating part “zaru” that means “do not…” sounds very similar to “saru”, which means “monkey”.
They may be wise, but August in Japan is tough for everyone, and so the same three very wise monkeys have been spotted hiding in central Sydney, and what’s even more, in a pub! Coming from japan, this was the last thing I expected… 😉
A kangaroo (or maybe two)
After Hawaii, Australia is another quite popular destination for travelers from Japan, especially in August. Given that it is mid-winter there Down Under, it sounds like a nice escape from the heat. Beware that Sydney can be rather windy and Melbourne may feel almost freezing if coming straight from mid-summer in Japan (confirmed by personal experience).
Similarly to deer in Nara park (you can read about that here), I have always wanted to see a kangaroo.
Already on my first day, a city tour guide kind of “killed” my optimism saying “you will not see any wild kangaroos around Sydney, we have eaten them all!” and kindly recommended a restaurant serving kangaroo steak.
Luckily, kangaroo population in Australia remains almost twice as large as the one of people, so no need to get disappointed. For instance, you can find many in Featherdale Wildlife Park, and differently from a zoo, most of animals here are the rescued ones.
Goldfish (many of them!)
You may recall a fairy tale about a goldfish that can fulfill three wishes. If you ever wanted to give it a try, you must visit Japan in summer. The weather may be tough, but you will see many and many goldfish all around. Goldfish or Kingyo (金魚) in Japanese is a true symbol of summer season and you can find displays in numerous places around Tokyo, e.g. big department stores, like Mitsukoshi, or Art Aquarium at Nihombashi Mitsui Hall.
Symbolizing wealth and good luck, goldfish have been brought to Japan by Chinese in 16th century and were sold to samurai and nobility as pets. Breeding became a quite popular activity and Japan has developed a number of goldfish varieties since then. Goldfish also appears on various summer goodies, like special seasonal desserts, postcards or paper fans. The one in the picture below I received as a present from a Japanese couple that I happened to share a helicopter ride in Sydney with.
While I haven’t heard any stories about wishes coming true, that does not mean you cannot try, especially given the many goldfish to choose from! 😉
Paris Can Wait
On the way back from Indonesia, I get to the airport early for the 7:00 am ANA flight back to Tokyo. It takes me some time to realize that I am the only non-Asian in the lounge, and the only business woman among many and many middle age Japanese businessmen. To be honest, this was the first time I have really noticed. When on the plane, I was happy to find “Paris can wait” movie on the menu, and the latest issue of “Latte”, an Australian magazine for business chicks in my bag that I accidentally picked up at Sydney’s airport several days earlier. Lucky me!
Inspired by great stories (can I get subscription to Japan, please?), I signed up for an organization supporting women empowering in Japan’s business world (FEW Japan) as soon as I landed. I am really excited and looking forward to join their events and activities. Stay tuned for future blog updates.
Maybe Paris can wait, but not for too long! Looking forward to board another plane sometime soon and say to myself as in that movie: “and now, straight to Paris!”