Sunday, 8 August 2010


Greetings from Japan! It's actually our last morning here and I'm taking half an hour between finishing the packing and getting showered etc to write a few words about our first few days here.

This is, apparently, the world's tallest Buddha statue and it's on the way from Narita airport to the Ostler's place in Tsukuba, near Tokyo.

This chart gives some idea of the height of the monster in comparison to some other structures, including the Statue of Liberty (which I'm assuming is the real thing and not the copy at Tokyo harbour).

In the little shopping area by the statue is this interesting little business - you can get your feet washed by sitting at this 'pool' for Y100!

Many folks have heard just how expensive Japan is. Most things are similarly priced to home in Europe etc, but the fruit has to be seen to be believed. Bearing in mind that £1 is about Y135 at the moment, work out how much this watermelon is:

If that's a bit beyond your budget, then perhaps just one slice?

Or maybe just one stick of celery?

The reason for this is, not that things don't grow here, but that the Japanese are seeking total perfection from their produce, so that means the vast majority of what's grown doesn't make it to the supermarkets and what does is forced to be so expensive that fresh food is out of the reach of a large number of people. So sad! Sacrificing good health and nutrition in search of 'perfection', and who knows what the perfect melon is anyway?? Frozen veg and fruit juices (which can safely come from the pletiful rejects) are decent prices and the Ostlers have been known to go and buy rejects directly from farmers in order to just get some fruit!

We took a trip to Bethel on the first Thursday afternoon as it's just next to the Assembly Hall where the English convention was to be held. It was lovely to be there, but you were shown very little of the real thing, mostly just information boards, not even the printery, so Martin described it as 'a bit sterile'. This is the model of the branch complex that's in the exhibition area.

Onto the assembly and before the sesssions started on the Friday, who should I see in the corridor, but Yoshino, formerly of Birmingham Mandarin! She's on a visit home from her foreign service and it was nice to catch up.

Finally, here's a snap from the beginning of the drama.

Anyone whose already had their convention programme will know what a great assembly it was with multiple new releases, but I'll say no more about that in case of spoilers. We had attendance varying from 929 on Friday morning to 1150 on Sunday afternoon, including 15 tied in by TV link from Bethel next door, and 3 were baptized on Saturday lunchtime.

Immediately after the programme finished on the Sunday, we headed off to Kyoto for a couple of days of pure tourism, which I'll post about next time.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea about that as a reason for expensive fruit & vegetables. Having recently been to the Faroes and Greenland (where veg is mostly frozen due to having to be shipped from Denmark, but what little fresh produce survives, still isn't *that* expensive) I'm frankly appalled.

    Can you explain what the "English convention" is, for those of us who haven't heard of it? Guessing some kind of religious link if people are getting baptized...