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1985/7 Japan

I lived and worked in Japan October 1985 into March 1986, and again October 1986 into March 1987

These are the (mainly hand-written) letters I wrote home to my parents... 

17 October 1985
Posted 17.10.85; received 22.10.85

Greetings from Japan!

I’ve bought a camera and travelled on the Tokyo trains at rush hour and tried sushi (raw fish) and been to a five-hour Kabuki play and met several foreigners. And today I plan to find some ‘permanent’ accommodation and a job. (One girl I met was being paid $20 per hour in Tokyo teaching English). And next week I’m going to a big festival at one of the shrines here in Kyoto.

I flew from San Francisco to Vancouver last Friday and spent the night at the airport. Left Vancouver at 1pm on Saturday and arrived exhausted in Tokyo at 3:30pm on Sunday after a ten hour flight.

I spent two nights and one day in Tokyo. Rush hour on the trains is incredible. At first I thought it might be a gropers’ paradise, but nobody can move their hands they are so tightly packed. And at every station you are buffeted by streams of people getting on and off.

I spent $440 on camera equipment. Got a NIKON FG, a zoom lens 80mm-210mm, and a wide-angle 28mm lens. I am terribly excited about having a decent camera at last. Especially now that I have finally made it to Japan/Asia.

Kabuki theatre is quite fascinating. It is a traditional art form dating back several centuries. There are no women actors allowed – so men play both roles. Wonderful costumes and make-up and stage effects and music. I had nothing with which to compare this kind of acting, but the Japanese audience seemed very appreciative so I guess it was a good performance. You can hire English language tapes which explain the plot and some of the symbolism as you go along. The performance lasted five hours. At interval I was surprised to see everyone getting out little lunch boxes and chopsticks and eating in the theatre. The Japanese prepare and display and package their food beautifully. I tried some raw tuna yesterday and was pleasantly surprised by its taste. It was served wrapped in sweet rice and seaweed. The rice they serve here is very sticky – making it easier to eat with chopsticks.

In Tokyo I stayed in Okubo House which was situated down a really narrow alley near the station. Despite its location I felt perfectly safe. My room was the size of a very short double bed. My 5’10” roommate had a little trouble sleeping. My head touched one wall and my feet the other! The house was equipped with a Turkish type bath. As is this one here. And you have to get used to removing your shoes and lowering your voice as the walls are literally paper thin.

[I’ve just had an interview. I will be working on Saturday and Sunday – helping at a Sanyo campaign. For $45 per day plus transport and food. A nice little start to my working experience here. If I can find two other girls to join me I will be paid an additional Finder’s Fee!]

Spent yesterday with three Americans. We went to a craft centre to watch a woman weaving a silk OBI (the ‘belt’ for kimonos), a man painting vases with 24kt gold dust, another man painting silk screens, potters and dollmakers and damascene workers. Quite fascinating.

I’m going to the post office soon to try and give you a call!

Take care. Please write.


PS Please send my mail (carefully PRINT): Poste Restante, Central Post Office, Kyoto, Japan [Until further notice] Tah!

Kabuki (postcard)
Kabuki (postcard)
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