October 5, 1961 – Tokyo

Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan – Raining

      As I opened my eyes and looked out the window I noticed that, once again, it was raining and raining hard.  I had hoped that it would pass because the rain made it chilly.  It also meant I had to carry a coat instead of just a sweater.

      After Edith and I finished putting away the clothes we still had out, we called for an attendant to come get our luggage to take it down to the lobby.  Once the bags were picked up we went to get our breakfast.  While we ate Edith and I talked with others on how much we would miss Tokyo because the people had been so friendly, the shopping wonderful and the scenery delightful.

      After eating we left in a motorcar for Kamakura via Yokohama on the Simu Toll road.  I found the countryside was beautiful and decided it was the norm for Japan.  Kamakura was a popular tourist resort with ideal beaches for people to spend time during the summer.  On our two hour drive we made a stop at the Buddhist Hachiman Shrine and also saw the Daibutsu, a huge bronze Buddha made in 1252.  The Buddha was so large one could walk inside of it.  Kiki told us that the round ornaments we noticed on the idol’s head were replicas of snails which had supposedly been placed there to keep the god’s head cool in the summer.  

      At one point on the drive I saw some beautiful bamboo growing along the Cama River which divided the Tokyo district from the Yokomana one.  Kiki mentioned that bamboo grows about 20 inches a day.  Once I had wanted to plant some bamboo in my back yard but Stuart had said no.  Now I was glad I hadn’t because I think it would have been hard to get rid of if we ever wanted to.  It looked like it would spread quite easily.

      Once we left Kamakura our bus traveled along the coast on the hill above Sagami Bay to Enoshima.  It was a truly delightful ride and although we’d been told we would be able to see Mt. Fuji it wasn’t clear enough to see the famous mountain despite the rain stopping after we left Tokyo.  We did see the Wakiana Castle on the way to the Enoshima Kanko Hotel though and once we reached the hotel we had a beautiful view of Sagami Bay.  We stopped for lunch at the Courtyard Restaurant in Enoshima where we found the food was good, as usual, and our view of the scenery out the window wonderful. 

Bus Trip to Enoshima

Sagami Bay from the Enoshima Kanka Hotel

Wakiana Castle from Bus

Courtyard Restaurant in Enoshima

      Once lunch was done Kiki took us to a nearby home to visit a local woman, Mrs. Watanaba.  As he explained to us Mrs. Watanaba had been born in her home and lived there all her life.  He was pleased to announce that because of her association with the tour agency, she had decided to invite us into her home for a tea ceremony.  Kiki assured us that this was a great honor being bestowed on us. 

Mrs Watanaba at Enoshima

Mrs Watanaba's House Roof Tiles

Tea at Mrs Watanaba in Enoshima

      When we entered her garden through a high gate it was like walking into a giant centerpiece of a table setting for a Japanese party.  The trees were pruned into odd shapes and there were no flowers.  I decided it must be an off season for them.  When we walked into her front door into a hallway like space we, of course, removed our shoes before going into another area that opened into two square spaces.  The rooms had three sides that consisted of sliding glass doors while the fourth beautiful grained, posh wooden shelves on the large wall.  This was an alcove that Kiki told us was called the “Tokonoma” and it had a wall hanging called “Kakemana”.  We were instructed that a guest upon entering this room would bow as a courtesy to the hostess to show their respect.  On the shelves I saw just two articles – a bowl and one ming tree – both beautiful.  The wood was polished and very outstanding.  Tea tables were set up with silk coverings and there were delicate tea cups and plates with a small piece of cake made of soy bean and very sweet.  Also on the plate were crisp little cookies.  Our hostess bowed low to us as we all kneeled or sat on the cushions and she performed a traditional tea ceremony for us.  We had just eaten a delicious lunch, so we all had to do a little acting to show her that we enjoyed the cake and cookies she gave us. 

      After the tea ceremony, we went on a tour of the house.  The floors were polished and reflected any movement.  Upstairs were three sleeping rooms.  One room had a child’s dresser, mirror and a glass case with a beautiful doll.  One room with a lovely wall hanging had been hung out for our viewing.  The contents of the third room were rather sparse.  There was a bed on the floor, a small pillow that was stuffed with straw to make it very hard and compact.  I noticed there were also two lovely quilts laid out.  One quilt with had sleeves and a high neck line for cold weather.  Finally there was one real large brazier for a fire made of porcelain another that was smaller.  That bedroom looked out onto a small courtyard 20 ft sq with potted plants.  The roofs were tiled and shaped like pagoda roofs.  The bathroom was large, all tile with a sunken bath 5 feet deep that we were told was only to be used for rinsing off.  The kitchen was small with a two burner gas stove, a small ice box and a small sink much like the antique Dutch sink in USA. 

      The hall leading from this room took us into another square room used for dining and playing cards.  The low table was directly over a large square hole in the floor about 2 ½ ft deep.  In the bottom was a grate.  In cold weather hot coals would be placed in this grate and one would sit with the feet in this hole – to dine or two play cards.  A small ruffle around the outside of this table touched the floor and was used to keep the heat in.  In another room were two easy chairs and a lounging chair and a large library with shelves on one wall from floor to ceiling.  Also a television set and it really looked out of place in such a traditionally decorated place.

      Another room contained the Shrine of the Shinta and Buddha Shrine and was worshiped morning and nights by placing food each time, burning incense.  As usual it was made of special carved wood and was kept polished.  The mats covering all the floors except the hall were thick and soft with padding and bound with dark silk binding, in walking in we avoided stepping on the binding. 

      When we left we all bowed to Mrs. Watanaba and thanked her for her gracious hospitality.  Seeing her home had been a special treat for me and gave me more insight into some of the customs I had heard about from others who had visited Japan in the past.  According to Kiki, there is a popular book “Japanese Inn” that describes this area very well.

      After our visit with Mrs. Watanaba we continued our drive by motor coach to Miyanoshita.  Along the way Kiki let us know that the law is that every motor coach had to have a stewardess to help the driver.  As he explained the stewardess had several duties.  She was supposed to look out the left side of the bus to see if there is room to pass.  When the driver was backing up she had to get out and use her whistle to give directions.  Finally, the stewardess was expected to sing little songs for us while we travel. 

      On the way in Odowara we saw in the center of the town a little hill with Odowara castle.  As we entered the Fuji-Hakone National Park we arrived at Miyanoshita and it turns out the area is located on a terrace 1,370 feet above the Hayakawa River.  Before we went deeper into the canyon we all noticed many Mandarin orange trees growing on the terraced hillside.  From my experience in Fillmore I knew the air would smell wonderful when all the trees were in bloom.  All around Ventura, Fillmore and Santa Paula were orange and lemon orchards and I had always loved going on Sunday drives when the trees were all full of blossoms.

      As we followed the Hayakawa River I enjoyed the gorgeous scenery of the river and the Kakone Mountains.  Kiki told us the Kakone Mountains abounded in hot spring resorts like Miyanoshita and they attracted a steady stream of holiday visitors from Tokyo and the Yokohama area especially during the coldest winter months.  He also told us that it is one of the more popular sites for honeymooners to visit and I could see why. 

      Our hotel during our stay in Hakone turned out to be the Fujiya Hotel which had been used as the royal summer palace before it was turned into a hotel.  The hotel was made up of several “palaces” and we were put into the Flower Palace for our stay.  When the clerk gave us our room I got excited because all the rooms had unique names and mine was called the Hydrangea.  It was such a lovely large room with great big easy chairs, tables and a lovely bath with hot mineral water.  The bath itself turned out to actually be a spa.  Edith and I took several minutes to ourselves after we checked in to enjoy our room before going to the dining room for dinner.  

Fujiya Hotel

Fujiya Hote in Fuji-Hakone Park

Hydrangea Bedroom in Fujiya Hotel

View from Hydrangea Bedroom

      Our dinner turned out to be a real extravaganza gourmet experience and was overwhelming.  We had 12 courses and all the food was so good.  First there were appetizers, then a clear soup, little pickled beets, cucumbers and on and on with salmon, beef and noodles too.  After each course they took our plate and brought us a nice clean one.  The china was beautiful white and gold porcelain and made me feel like I was really living in luxury.  By the end of the meal I wanted someone to carry be back to my room because I could hardly move. 

      As I got up to leave the table Kiki mentioned to some of our group that the hotel offered a massage service and we could take advantage of the opportunity if we wanted.  Edith and I decided after our 80 mile trip that day a massage would help take away the aches I was already experiencing.  I had never had one before but had heard from others that they were very pleasant so I asked Kiki to make the arrangements for both of us for that evening and we returned to our room.

      By the time we made it back to our room it was 9:30pm.  Edith let me take my hot mineral bath first before our masseuse came up since she planned on taking hers while I getting my massage.  When the masseuse arrived I must admit I was a little surprised that it turned out to be a man.  I had always had a preconceived idea it would be a woman.  The masseuse rubbed and pounded on me for an hour and ten minutes.  His hands were so strong but they felt so soft and like silk so that by the time he finished I was very, very relaxed.

      I had to laugh after the masseuse left because Edith seemed indignant that her massage only lasted for one hour and wasn’t nearly as long as mine had been.  She really seemed to have her nose out of joint about it.  While we finished getting ready for bed she would hardly talk to me.  I tried to initiate a conversation to smooth things over but with little if any luck.  I hoped by morning she would be over her issue and I gave up went to bed.  I had hardly lain down to sleep when I found myself out like a light.

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