Japanese Travels Continue

The Penguin met some turtles in a temple lake.

Since I last visited this page we have done quite a bit more of travelling. We visited Hiroshima Peace Park (beautiful) and also the WWII museum (disturbing).

We relaxed at several temples, heard a great deal of history from our guide dating back to the 8th century. We have heard of Shoguns and Warlords and it is enough to make me want to read the James Clavell book Shogun written in 1975 (yes, all 1000 pages of it).

We laugh at the number of dogs being wheeled around in prams or dressed in trendy little outfits. Very funny. Very spoiled.

We have eaten great deals of food, slept in hard beds that were like slate that made our backs feel great and walked our shoes off. Garmin even sent me an email to tell me I was ahead of several strangers with my fitness bracelet and number of steps taken. Something over 60,000 steps!

The colours of the temples are stunning. I particularly liked this one.

We have laughed with the wonderful group we are travelling with and maybe made a couple of life time friends. It has all bee wonderful.

The enormous Buddha of Kyoto, 8th century.

We got an email from our dogs in Hobart telling us they love and miss us (I had not idea they were computer literate). We have ridden busses, trains and subways. The subways are not as hard to figure out as I thought they would be.

Flowers seen along the street.

The train station in Kyoto is fabulously modern and it has to be seen to be believed. Perhaps google images of it. The modern architecture is stunning.

Bookmarks in a shop.

We have spent two nights in Hiroshima and three nights in Kyoto. Today we go to a textile factory and a Japanese tea ceremony and performance. We have this morning free, the first free half day we have had and we relished at sleeping in until 8 am and then the alarm woke us. Enjoying the down time but it all starts again at lunchtime.

Lots of gold in this temple near Hiroshima.

We have 4 sleeps left until we get home and no doubt that will be jam packed with our guide’s activities. She has been wonderful.

Cherry blossoms in full bloom everywhere we go. Beautiful.

I will leave you with an assortment of photos in no particular order. By the way has anyone read Shogun or his other books about Asian?

A budding photographer who was not going with his mother until he got this shot perfectly right.
These wonderful bridges are present at several temples and parks.
Taxi rank below our Hiroshima Hotel at train station. The first row is numbered 1 to 8 from the right hand side. Once Row 1 has cleared all of the taxis move forward one row. Once they are cleared completely they then all move forward again. The new taxis coming into the rank take their place in the back row and cannot move until all the rows in front of them are clear. Mesmerising to watch.

Japanese Travels Continue…

Snip20170411_2This week’s travelling in Japan has been great fun. It has also been exhausting, rainy, sunny, funny and more than a couple of coincidences have happenedYesterday we were in Takayama, a beautiful little city that did not get damaged during WWII so there is still history there to be seen.

One of the highlights was going through the market that runs everyday beside the river.
I must share a funny story with you. Julie is a friend of mine in the photo club back in Hobart.
She and her partner are travelling on their own in Japan now.  At the last photo club ƒmeeting before we both left on our separate trips I laughingly said to her, “I will see you in Japan.” With millions and millions of people here in this country both of us knew that would never happen.Snip20170411_5

As I walked along the market strip I looked up and saw Julie and her partner walking towards me. What a laugh. We threw our arms in the air and gave each other a big hug. Our tour was only in the market area for 45 minutes and 20 minutes of that walking to and from the bus. What were the chances!?

Today we are on two trains going to Hiroshima. One is a regular train with a few stops and the second train will be a bullet train that moves amazingly fast. When it passes through a train station one can’t help but take a step back. However once on the train it doesn’t feel that fast at all.

Snip20170411_1I will put some photos up later when I get to the hotel. The only time I have to write any kind of narrative is on the train or bus. We have been going from the time we arise at 6:45 am until after dinner around 9:00 pm. We barely have time to put a couple of notes and pictures up on Facebook for friends and family to see.

As I said, we are travelling to Hiroshima. I don’t think I will take many photos except perhaps of the surrounding area. It somehow doesn’t feel right to me to photograph a place that is known for the many deaths of others. I remember how wrong it felt when we visited Auschwitz in Poland. People of all types taking photos of themselves standing in the gas chambers or the rooms where there were piles of hair or children’s toys or prosthetics stored. I think this is a very inappropriate place to take selfies. I also think this about Hiroshima. Whether one rememberSnip20170411_6s the days the USA bombed Hiroshima; whether one feels it was right or wrong it still remains the place of much sadness reflecting on the deaths of many families. I cannot imagine my family and friends having experienced such horror. So you won’t see close up photos of anything except maybe the beauty of gardens.
Yesterday we went to a Washi paper making attraction and had the chance to make three postcards. We saw the process for making such wonderful paper and explored the gift shop that had wonderful things in it. As my experience tells me most book bloggers are all stationery freaks, loving fine peSnip20170411_3ns, papers and cards, etc. I will share that experience in a separate post.

Enjoy the photos.

The Penguin is in Tokyo

Three Days of Tokyo

Enjoying the cherry blossoms.

As I write we are on the bus leaving Tokyo on the way to a shrine (can’t pronounce the name) that has a very large Buddha in it. It is south of Tokyo according to the guide, Sue.

For you Australians we are on a Bunnick’s tour out of Adelaide. No more than 20 people. We have all been having an excellent time and everyone is friends. The Penguin has been welcomed to the group with one member patting him on the head every time she sees him. Others ask if he had a good sleep and someone else told me I should confine him as we tour the fish market so he doesn’t act up.

So far he has learned to make Sushi, enjoyed several lunches, listened to and watched enormous Sumo wrestlers doing demonstrations and answering our questions. We have had so many laughs.

I went up against the wrestler in the white loin cloth.

We saw a Sumo wrestler’s demonstration yesterday as we ate lunch in the upstairs of a restaurant. Those guys are big! After their demonstration they asked for volunteers. Three men volunteered. They had to wear the funny Sumo wrestler costume.  It was very funny. However the women needed representation and I climbed into the suit. The big wrestler had me imitate the Sumo moves. We then faced off. We went straight for each other.  The goal is to push them out of the circle. I pushed hard into his chest. He had so much fat and muscle and sweat it was like pushing into a hard, wet sponge. He backed up. I had him going. I then poked one finger into his chest and out of the circle he went. He admitted defeat.

The suit the volunteers wore. This is another traveller in our group. It was extremely funny.

There was another Sumo in the room too. The next thing I knew each one had taken my arm and lifted me right up into the air as though I was a feather. There is a photo but I do not have it yet as another traveller in our group took it.

There is hardly time to breathe before we are whisked away to another destination. The cherry trees are in blossom and once I get those photos sorted we will share them with you.

This is one of those experiences that you want to sleep because of exhaustion but don’t want to miss anything. We hit the ground running. The day before yesterday we walked 12,000 steps, ate three enormous meals of Japanese food and hit the bed so hard at night we have slept on an ice flow with no sleeping bag.

Penguin LOVES sushi.

We are currently on our way on the expressway to another interesting night in a Japanese hotel. We will sleep on the floor for two nights, (I assume on futon type beds) and dress in kimonos when we meet for dinner. We have been ordered to relax near the hot springs.

I doubt the penguin will enjoy the hot springs but you just never know.

The Penguin at a Buddhist Shrine

Absolutely no time for reading. Last night we went to the night district of Tokyo to see the lights and it was pretty amazing.

I will leave you with a few photos.







The Penguin is Packed


Monday, around lunchtime we fly out of Hobart for Tokyo, Japan. Mr. Penguin and I have always travelled to various countries on our own. Busses, Trains, Planes and booking.com have taken us through many countries. For Japan, because of the language neither of us speaks (though there will be lots of English there) and the masses of people, we decided to relax with an organised tour from a company in Adelaide, South Australia. We chose it because it has small groups. There is not supposed to be over 20 people on this 17 day journey (a “taster journey” as we think of it). We’ll see what area we enjoy and then perhaps go back in the future on our own. I love the fact they organise for us but my experience has shown me on every tour whether it be for days or minutes there is always one person. That one person who is in your face, talks all the time, gets lost and doesn’t get back to the bus on time. The general pain in the backside. I am looking forward to seeing who that person is. I know, a bit negative but it is a little game I play. The others will all be wonderful I am sure.

The cats have been taken to a cattery for the time we are away and the dogs will stay home with a house sitter who loves them. She works so we need the pet door open for them to come and go into the back yard. As our cats are not allowed to roam, living mainly in their home and outdoor cat enclosure they get boarded out. We tell them they are going to camp and leave it at that. They, of course are completely, unimpressed.

Snip20170402_4We will be in rural areas half of the time and in the cities half of the time. Three nights in each place pretty much. We fly into Tokyo and visit other cities. I thought if I am not too exhausted at night from the early breakfasts and the long hours of walking I will have the Penguin contribute to this post a bit. So hang on tight, here we go.

In preparation, I must admit there is little except clothes in the suitcase. My own ‘capsule’ wardrobe where everything goes with everything is rolled and bagged.  I do not read everything about a country before I visit it. I tend to get on the plane or in the hotel for the first night and then cram. Much like I did in university when something was due the next day. Quite often, I skid through life by the seat of my pants.

Snip20170402_5I picked this book up about two years ago when I saw it in a book shop in Sydney. I bought it because I love drawing and sketching. I would love nothing more than to be an excellent drawer and sketcher. I have decided I will take a small book and some pencils and sketch a few things as I go. I have had two lessons on You Tube and feel I am ready to hit the world. Haha, the circles will not be round, the cubes will look like they are about to collapse and the squares and rectangles will not have equal sides, I am sure. But I am going to do it. It will be fun. The pictures will make me laugh and no one needs to see them but I might share some of them to make you laugh. Go ahead, laugh all you want. I have always believed one should get out of their comfort zone and try whatever they love whether they succeed or not. Besides I know each and every one of you has something you can’t do so I stick out my tongue and say, “Nah, nah, nah? nah, nah.”


Tokyo on Foot by Florent Chavouet. Florent is a young French man who is in Japan for almost a year with his partner who is doing an internship. From June to December, 2006 (I believe it is) he gets a bicycle and a lawn chair and explores the neighbourhoods (his term, not mine) of Tokyo. He is very detailed in his sketching and there are lots of colours. I really love looking through this book. From temples to the cockroaches that infest his apartment.

He takes each neighbourhood, one at a time and begins each chapter with their local ‘boba’ (police station or service.) He has various poses for the policeman who introduces the chapter and they can be quite humorous.

From the back flap of the book:  Florent Chavouet is a young graphic artist and author living in Paris. When he returned from Japan, he realised that all the observing and sketching he had done had helped him develop his own visual style, so his stay there led not only to his discovery of a certain Tokyo but to his evolution as an artist. This is his first book. He is at work on his next one.

Snip20170402_1If you are interested in Japan, travels by bloggers, hilarious drawing by someone who does not know what they are doing or just following a little stuffed penguin who I now refer to as Penguino, then stay tuned for the next 17 days.

If you are completely bored and want nothing to do with any of us that’s okay too. I’ll be home again on the 19th.

For those spammers who sometimes read this blog and leave stupid messages the house will be inhabited by a determined house sitter and two rottweiller/doberman cross dogs who used to work for the police force. Go ahead, I dare you.

Snip20170402_8Wish the three of us luck and good weather and lots of scrummy Japanese food.

Life is a Bit of a Mish-Mash right now

coffee-shop-penguinWhen it rains it pours as the saying goes. We are leaving for Japan on 3rd of April for 2 1/2 weeks. I can’t wait to get on the plane and fly out of here. Life has been chaotic. Rule no. 1 in this household. If there is a three day holiday weekend or a trip coming up you can bet one of the pets will get sick. True to form we took our wheezing, lethargic 12 year old terrier Molly to the vet to find out her mitral valve in her heart is leaking. The beginning of heart failure.  Over several visits of x-rays and ultra-sounds it has been sorted out and medication prescribed. So far so good. Thank goodness for pet insurance.Snip20170324_7

One of our members in our senior’s club died suddenly due to complications of a long term illness and his funeral was yesterday.

Then the photo club I belong to opened their big exhibition down at the wharf last night and we all have two hour shifts to man the exhibit in upcoming hot weather in the glass building it is housed in.

At this stage I takeSnip20170324_4 a deck of cards and throw it in the air. Did I mention I slept on my hip wrong and am hobbling around the house with a pulled muscle? Okay, whinge over.

I just started Robin Dalton’s book Aunts Up the Cross an older Australian book published by Text Classics. It is most entertaining but more on that later. This will be a tick against Australian Women Writers challenge.

Our book club will be meeting next week to discuss Songs of a War Boy another Australian story of a child soldier in Sudan who eventually came to Australia, learned English, finished school and became a well known lawyer and a 2017 nominee for Australian of the Year.  An amazing tale.

I threw my hands up (I was out of cards) over the book The Underground Railroad by Col Whitehead. I know, everyone loves it but me. The story irritated me to no end and the violence was increasingly sickening and I thought a bit gratuitous at times. After reading War Boy then moving onto this was just too much. When I was younger I was fascinated about the horrors of slavery in the United States (in that I couldn’t believe how bad it had been) years ago and I read everything I could find about it and the Civil War. I just can’t read anymore about it now and the fictional train that actually goes underground but you can look up out of it and see buildings was the last straw. I know metaphors and symbolism but I am just over it. Maybe I’ll pick it up again but I am so sick of cruelty to everyone I just quit!

Disarm House, Kempton, Tasmania

I will scatter a few photos through here and suffice to say this blog may be erratic for the next month. I will post up some things of the trip after all the Penguin will be travelling and that is what this blog is about. Either traveling through countries or books.

I do have a lunch to attend today in a historic old town up the midlands of Tasmania today. Whisky tasting begins at 11:30 but I am not a whisky drinker and being on my motorbike it probably isn’t a good idea. Lunch should be nice

Our Play Reading class finishes Waiting for Godot this next Tuesday. I have enjoyed the reading of this play very much.

So enjoy the scattered photos, be kind to one another and I’ll be back before long.  I must run now, the dog just came out of the kitchen with kitty litter on his nose.

The End of Eddy by Édouard Louis

A French Translation

Snip20170314_1The Guardian says:

From his earliest childhood, Eddy exhibits all the classic symptoms of his stigmatised condition; his hands over-gesture, his voice is too high and he instinctively loathes the food, sexuality and clothes of his peers. In consequence, he is beaten, abused and terrorised. As a “faggot” or “homo” he is the lowest of the low; lower than women, lower than even an Arab, Jew or Algerian – everyone in the book, young Eddy included, is casually racist. Nothing equips him to protect himself from the shame and terror that are his constant companions, and – not surprisingly – he lives and breathes unqualified self-loathing. He makes repeated attempts to assume the proper masculine role that his culture requires of him, and every time he fails, he assumes the fault is entirely his.

The author is a 28 year old French man who has based this book on his own experiences. It is sometimes a difficult read because Eddy just puts up with so much.

I loved this book. I really loved it. I think it is the best book I have read this year. This boy has such a miserable family and school life and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it but survive. But Eddy does more than survive. He eventually escapes this life but his childhood makes one wonder what on earth is wrong with people. Why can’t they just open their eyes and their mind and quit being so damn ignorant all the time . This book will create rage in the reader. I think it should be required reading in every high school in the world.

The book is extremely well written. A point is never belaboured, the facts are simply told. It is interesting to see how he copes with everything. I don’t think I could watch a filmcoffee-shop-penguin of this book. The reader is always on the side of Eddy and we always want what is best for him. I am not going to say anything else about him.

If you want more information about this book before you read it you can read the
Guardian’s review of it here.   I think this is what literature is all about. Suspending ignorance in the name of love for the character. The real boy who exists behind the story and others like him.

This Sweet Sickness- Patricia Highsmith

Snip20170314_2I really enjoyed this book. It was not really a thriller but the suspense kept me turning pages. David Kelsey is a scientist. He used to date Annabelle but he moved in order to get a higher paying job and she married someone else. But…David is obsessed with Annabelle. Although she is now married he completely ignores that tiny fact and behaves as if they are engaged.

I don’t want to say too much about this book because I don’t want to spoil it.  David keeps a house outside of the town he works in. He tells people at the boarding house he is visiting his mother in a nursing home each weekend but he is really going to the house he built for Annabelle. He takes on another name and lives as another who is married to Annabelle. His fantasies and conversations with her in his weekend house keep him going. It is beginning to tell she has little interest in him.

The entire story is how he becomes more and more obsessed with her, the conflicts with several people that arise from his obsession and how it is all resolved at the end.

He becomes sicker and sicker with this obsession. The suspenseful part of the book is how other people, namely his friends, Wes (who has a wife he can’t stand to be with) and Effie ()who is completely in love with David) interfere in his plans. Every time he plans something one of them seems to crop up.  David begins with his fantasy life with Annabelle and then a particular event happens. This changes the entire direction of the story and the continued interference of thSnip20170315_1ose around him cause the suspense. You are always wondering, ‘how in the world is this going to end?’.

I think Patricia Highsmith is a brilliant story teller and I have not yet come across another author who can weave a story into the knots that she does. Last year I saw the play The Talented Mr. Ripley but have not read the book. I also saw the film Carol but have not read the corresponding book Ms. Highsmith wrote. Mr. Penguin read Strangers on a Train and I have yet to read that but I do remember the Alfred Hitchcock film. I wish this was a movie because I would love to see how they do it.

I would love to know what others thing of this book. I really enjoyed it.