Arriving and Accepting. SJ 24/5/17

Often working from a place of tiredness can reap as many rewards as being full of energy exploding aimlessly in a space

Outside Gyokusen Hotel waiting for the shuttle to Izumo Taisha

Shuffling through immigration at Narita airport, I felt exhausted but accepting of what the still long journey had to bring. I knew that we had another 8 hours to travel – however for once, that fateful “are we nearly there yet” didn’t enter my mind…more like, “can we lose more of a sense of time?” …Taking in the views from our four connecting trains whilst falling in and out of sleep, waking to new worlds contained in each rice field accompanied by shrines overlooking the growth of plentiful new crops. All close to homes up until now I have only ever experienced in pictures and movies… Japanese of course.

We arrive, thanks to a kind employee at Narita JR station who booked us all seats on our four connecting trains, labelling in the corners of each ticket the order we should take. I’m happy for this order and assertiveness he showed when we very politely said “we will be fine”. I think he saw through our English reserve and quite rightly made us submit and take help.

We accept the tiredness, the assistance, following those who have been here before – like the two ladies we meet who hear our accents and so clearly want to initiate discussion as they turn round too many times to count. All of these our choices. However, when arriving at our destination, Matsue, we had to accept that we were in a place even the Japanese deem a far away place (or so the young man at tonight’s sushi bar told us as he translated our requests to the chef) where we have a lack of the ability to communicate via spoken language and even physically there are evident ways in which we hold ourselves and gesture.

After a more complicated than planned arrival at Hotel Gyokusen we enter our traditional tatami room and at the midnight snack bar a cheerful woman shares her choice of meal. This was also a great opportunity to learn how to pronounce our first key words, sitting in our Kimonos. Repeat, respond, repeat, respond, all words of polite exchanges that will help us in the conversations to come. I feel I have arrived.