THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JAMES A. BONDOUX

WANDERING AROUND JAPAN

Otorii Gate

A perfect moment: The Otorii Gate at mid-tide in the mist.

Umbrellas

The mist turned to rain at red-painted Itsukushima.

Musselwhites

Ed and Linda Musselwhite looking toward the Otorii Gate.

Pocari Sweat

Some amazing offerings in the ubiquitous vending machines.

KWB in Restaurant

A little sushi sometimes goes a long way.

Samurai swords

Linda wraps her purchase of white steel.

Ground Zero

Ground Zero at Hiroshima.

Samurai Cemetery

Some of the stone lanterns at the Toko-ji temple.

School kids

Kathryn and Linda interact with school kids on a field trip to Nijo castle.

Bamboo

On the grounds of the outdoor musuem of traditional Japanese architecture in Takamatsu.

Pulguksa

Stacking stones at the Pulguska temple in South Korea brings good luck.

KFC in Nagasaki

The Colonel in full regalia gets some help.

In early May, 2001, we were aboard the CLIPPER ODYSSEY, steaming in the Sea of Japan somewhere between Matsue and Kanazawa when we learned that my father had just passed away. The news ended our cruise around Japan, a couple of days ahead of schedule. We hustled off the ship in Kanazawa and headed straight for Paris, where the rest of my family was gathering.

All the same, it had been a super trip, full of discoveries of the strong, and different, Japanese history and culture. Professor Mark Peattie led this Stanford program, building on his lifelong study of Japan, including a spell of almost 15 years in country as a US diplomat.

The single most vivid moment of the trip probably occurred the morning of our visit to Hiroshima, when we approached Ground Zero. We were surprised to find the skeleton of the Industrial Arts building of the college still standing – the explanation being that building escaped the blast’s shockwave since the A-bomb detonated just a few hundred feet directly above the roof. The disturbing and powerful exhibits in the adjacent "museum of peace" also displayed a lack of any trace of animosity – the theme being "this is what happened, let’s hope it never does again".

Another principal highlight of the voyage was the extraordinary Itsukushima shrine at Miyajima. The Otorii gate, one of the symbols of Japan, guards this collection of red-painted buildings, dating from 1168. We had to tread quiety around the central part of the complex, as a worshipper was receiving private counseling from a Shinto priest.

Nagasaki proved to be another fascinating port of call, where we explored a series of Buddhist temples on our own during a lazy afternoon. The second A-bomb dropped on this port city caused nowhere near the devastation suffered by Hiroshima, the bomb having landed behind some hills to the West of the city center. Nagasaki was also feudal Japan’s window on the west for many years, as all foreign traders were confined to a small offshore island.

We had attended a performance of the Cherry Blossom play while in Gian, that traditional city of Geishas adjacent to old Kyoto. We were the only "round-eyes" in the audience – and this form of musical is definitely an acquired taste. But we were also treated to a demonstration of make-up and costuming by a pair of geishas, in a private meeting arranged by Professor Peattie.

Also in Kyoto, it was fascinating to inspect the construction of the wooden palace called Nijo castle (built in 1601), where the passageway floorboards are built to creak loudly when someone passes, so that the Emperor would be warned of the approach of any potential threat.

The fishing harbor of Hagi being to small to accommodate the ship, we landed via the vessel’s zodiacs. enjoyed a lunch at a brewery where we cooked our own meat and vegetables in built-in oil fryers at each table. This gave the ship’s staff a break from meal preparation – to the delight of Carlene Miller, the Hotel Manager aboard the CLIPPER ODYSSEY, and with whom we had previously cruised (during our expedition to Antarctica, aboard the CLIPPER ADVENTURER). Hagi was home to a large number of samurai in the 19th century, and from this base a group of them launched the revolt that culminated in the Meiji restoration.

In Matsue, Kathryn was so enthused with the "washi" (papermaking) demonstration that she bought a sheet – Yen being funnymoney it was only later that she realized she had spent $45 – about $10 per square foot....

The sad news from Paris put an end to our traipsing through ancient castles, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and zen gardens. Sayonara.



Geishas

Geisha and apprentice at conclusion of makeup and costuming demonstration.

Matsue Castle

Matsue-jo, Castle built in 1611; we climbed all the ladders to the top.