Just got a new mail from Japan. By M., a student volunteering to guide tourists around and practicing her English. I’ve come across more than one such organisation during my preparations. It sounds great. You contact them via their site and they match you with one of their members. From then on you fix everything directly in person. Logically you have to pay for the transportation, lunch and entrance fees of your guide but apart from that their service is free (or in some cases you pay by spreading peace over the world).
M. had confirmed that she would guide me around in Kyoto. That was something to look forward to! But it got even better…
When I filled out the application form I’d mentioned my interest in sumi-e. She had had courses in shodo when she was younger and was eager to personalise the tour around those themes… Wow! Great news!
I had heard from sumi-e teachers and enthousiasts alike that the technique wasn’t very popular in Japan anymore. That it became harder and harder to find craftsmen who still make our precious materials. That the so called Living National Heritage was experiencing great difficulty in finding successors.
But then today a new message from my guide in Kyoto… with such great news!
During the preparations for our excursion she met a sumi-e artist who would love to meet us. That during the conversation M. got more and more intrigued by the technique that she wants to try it for herself… And if it would be OK for me if she arranged a little course for us, and if that would be ok for me than it’s out of the question that I would be paying her fee for attending…
Can someone pinch me now please?
You have to know that this is not the first mail in this tone. I am feeling so welcome in Japan already! You can hardly imagine what’s going to happen in the next weeks! The kids are less enthousiastic but I am counting the nights as they do when their birthdays approach! It’ll be worthwhile! I only have to sleep for 12 nights!!