Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Faraway Place by Leigh Riker



I hope you all had a great holiday weekend! With the Fourth of July celebrations now behind us, summer is really here. At least the calendar says so. We’ve had so much rain and fog in Tennessee that I’m beginning to wonder if the season will ever make its appearance!

In June, I escaped to Tokyo—where my husband and I were mostly lucky weather-wise in what should have been their rainy season. This was taken from the new Sky Tree building.
I first went to Japan eighteen years ago, and I remember a) no escalators but many steep flights of stairs to climb with luggage; b) everything being uphill; c) and quite a few toilets that were holes in the floor, even in upscale department stores.

I couldn’t speak the language or read signs. And I feared my first visit to Asia might prove too much of a challenge. But by the end of that trip, I’d realized I could fit in, and thrive, anywhere in the world. It was a life-changing realization for someone who’s not normally that adventurous.

On this second trip—much has changed in almost two decades!—there were plenty of escalators, and every toilet, even in unexpected places, was a Toto brand (sigh of pleasure) with state-of-the-art electronics. I wish I had one in my home.

But, no sense staying in a hotel room all day. I was off to see the sights. This is one of the many sweet little pocket parks in Tokyo dedicated to children, some of whom, sadly, haven’t survived. Their statues wear little knitted caps and aprons.
And here’s another park, such a peaceful and serene place in the middle of this huge city.

And, really, what trip would be complete without a visit to a Cat Café? There are several in Tokyo—for hedgehogs too!—but this cafe overlooks one of the busiest intersections in the world.
These were the most well-behaved cats I’ve ever seen and some of the most beautiful, being fed here by their care-givers.

Beyond the different sights we saw, though, it was the people, so welcoming and eager to please, among them the friends we visited, that made these experiences so memorable.

I’m back now in the U.S.—and, as always, glad to be home. Here’s to sunny skies. And again, Happy Birthday, America!

What are your summer plans? A cross country trip? Lounging by the pool? A stay-cation at home?

(The first two books of my Kansas Cowboys series are available now at most e-tailers; the third, Cowboy on Call, comes out in November. Please come visit me at: leighriker.com.)

















32 comments:

  1. What an interesting piece! Makes me want to go there too. A PA baby shower and a NY baby shower for the upcoming grandchild are keeping me close to home this summer.

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    1. Thanks, T.R. What could be better than two baby showers?! Congratulations on your soon to be born grandchild.

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  2. Thank you for sharing some pictures of your trip to Tokyo, Leigh. I remembers those hole-in-the-floor toilettes from a visit to Hong Kong a couple of years ago. I've never been to a cat café but those cats do seem very docile.

    It's nice to have you back in North America, and I look forward to your November release (although I don't look forward to winter).

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    1. I'm with you, Kate. Winter is not my friend, but I would like some summer first! I think that old type of, um, convenience has largely been replaced. Thanks for the good wishes on the next book.

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    2. Forgot to add, yes, the cats were so docile and kind of disengaged from visitors that it seemed rather surreal. Maybe they were too focused on the treats.

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  3. Thanks for taking us with you, Leigh. So much of my travel is vicarious that I really enjoy the destinations everyone chooses!

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    1. Ooh, Liz, I wish you all could have gone with me! We were lucky enough to fly with the new lie flat beds, which was nice, except I never sleep on planes.

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  4. A very nice quick tour of Tokyo, Leigh! I've never been but have been to other places in Japan and it's such an interesting country, isn't it, compared to Europe and North America. Was there a special reason for this second trip there? My summer plans involve hanging out at the cottage with family and friends and writing! Happy summer and all the best with your Kansas Cowboys!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the tour, Janice. Yes, Japan is very interesting. We traveled around the country the first time and saw a lot. Years ago my father in law received an antique plate from a colleague there so we took this trip in part to return it to that family for posterity. Have fun at your cottage. Sounds so relaxing.

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  5. Thanks, Leigh...I love to read about adventures. I agree, it's a fascinating country, and although my visit was in the '80s, I remember so much. I was greatly impressed by the quiet spaces in Tokyo and Kyoto. There can be such a crush of people in so many places, yet those large parks and smaller enclaves were practically pockets of silence. Love all the kids in their baseball caps, too. Kids really are ambassadors. So glad you had a good time.

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    1. Yes, the quiet in Kyoto too! I wanted to go back this time but our trip was shorter. Love all the parks, the crowded subways not so much though we did enjoy the monorail in Tokyo to get around. In the imperial park on our first visit, we saw a group of elderly volunteers grooming the lawn with scissors! So precise.

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  6. Leigh, how fun to return to a place after nearly two decades. Thanks for sharing your adventures.
    Cynthia

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  7. I'm glad you liked it, Cynthia. It was fun--and to see all those changes. Guess I expected time to stand still!

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  8. Leigh, this was fascinating for me. I've never. Even to Japan... all those stories of holes in the floor. I'm glad to know it's modern now. I'm afraid I'm not As adventure prone as I have been in the past. So, I love going on tours like you shared with us. As I sit in the airport right now, I envy that lie down seat on the plane you enjoyed!
    Happy summer!

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    1. Those seats were good for such a long haul flight. Cozy. Safe travels today, Catherine!

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  9. What a fabulous trip! My summer is almost over already. School starts in 3 weeks and it's back to the grindstone for me. I guess I'll just have to live vicariously through all of you.

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    1. This summer is flying past! We have two family trips to come but I haven't thought about them yet. I have two deadlines to meet first!

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  10. Looks like you had a fantastic trip. The pictures were great. Thanks for sharing with us!

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    1. My pleasure, Tara. it was quite an adventure. I usually like staying closer to home in my nice little rut.

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  11. What a great trip. Nice to be able to compare. I'll trade you summer sun for some of you rain, even the fog. I don't think we'll ever get monsoon in Tucson.

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    1. Oh, Roz, I'll trade in a heartbeat. I think we're having record rainfall. And I love Arizona! A condo I've had my eye on came up for sale the other day in Scottsdale and it's all I can do not to call about it and move.

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  12. A cat cafe! I will tell my neighbor's grown daughter about this. She leaves bowls of water out for all the neighborhood cats including my motley three, and hands out treats as well. Thanks for all the telling details, Leigh!

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    1. Yes, there are a number of those cafes here in the States now too. And over there also one for owls.


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  13. What an amazing trip!! Japan's never really been on my list of must sees but I might have to change my mind about that. Thank you for sharing! <3

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    1. It wasn't on my list either, Anna, but my husband has been there numerous times, loves it and speaks some Japanese so I tagged along. It is pretty intriguing.

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  14. I've always wanted to visit Japan. Thank you for the lovely photos! My plans include two deadlines and a get together in Destin with my girls and grandkids!

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    1. You're welcome, Patricia. Wish I had room for more photos. I hear you on the deadlines. We're meeting family near Destin soon. Love those beaches.

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  15. Welcome home, Leigh! What a trip. Thanks for sharing your photo with us. For hedgehogs too? That's funny!

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    1. Thanks, Jill! Yes, hedgehogs too and (see above) owls!

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  16. Loved your mini-tour, especially the cats. Japan looks fascinating. I'll have to look for photos of those hedgehog cafes. We're staying home for the summer, which has been hiding behind cool temps and rain here as well. Oh, except for my nephew's wedding in Mexico next month. I imagine we'll get more heat than we can handle there.

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    1. Glad you liked this post, Beth. I imagine you will get the sun and heat in Mexico then! Soak it up and have lots of fun at the wedding.

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  17. Leigh, how exciting! My husband traveled to Japan several times before we were married. Hearing his stories has always made me want to visit. The cat cafe would definitely be on my list!

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