What do you think when a person smiles? I smile when I’m happy. When I’m sad, sadness seeks a natural expression, but there are such moments when I’m sad but I’m smiling. Sometimes I might even get “a sour smile” when I predict happiness. Probably the same as you. I smile when I’m being ashamed. Or sometimes when I make a mistake – I probably think that smiling can take me out of stupidity or make things easier. When I’m embarrassed and sometimes shocked. I smile at the sentences like “Okay, see you” or “Tina, nice to meet you”. But why, what’s the meaning of that smile? I know that smiling is a way of my expression, and more often than not it is my mute language, but I also realize that sometimes we need to awaken positive feelings to others, or not to show weaknesses in the moment, which certainly involves false smile caused by anxious situations or smiling in situations when it is expected of us to do so.
Just a week ago I came across an article that is explaining how to recognize when a dog is smiling. I read it because I was searching for it with the intent to find out how to make my dog happier. So, in the end, Nietzsche was not right when he thought people were the only animals that laugh. However, for people, and in this case for my dog, the situation is similar – smiling is related to the game, to interaction.
I was sitting in the common room of a nearby hostel, eating toast with jam and I was thinking where to head in the next hour. It was the fifth day of my solo trip. I bought a one-way ticket for the Kansai region, and at that moment I knew that that was the right decision. It was also my first solo trip. Sitting in that hostel while feeling like I had reached the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I cannot believe that I had been so afraid of traveling alone. It all turned out to be simple, safe, and easy. Honestly, a couple of times before the trip, I was questioning myself, and back then traveling solo sounded scary, especially because I am a woman, fed with a lot of kind of fears. From the risk of having no one to share the experience with, to the fear of looking like a loser – all seemed to me like valid concerns. However, there was no way to miss an amazing experience, and I knew that at any moment. I’ve encountered so many amazing women out there doing the very same thing, some of whom are as young as 18 or 19 years old.
Now I do understand that people do not travel alone because they can not find a friend to go with – it`s because they got tired of waiting for the perfect companion and just went. Then, as they find out there are many personal benefits to it, it typically becomes the preferred mode of travel. The same happened to me. On the other hand, when you get tired of loneliness you can easily find someone who feels the same – that unknown person who is always the sweetest satisfaction.
That’s just what happened to me that morning. Seeing a few of them that are gathering to go somewhere else than Kyoto, I came running up to them and asked where are they heading to. Their little family made only a few minutes earlier, was completely generous to the adoption of new members, and in a few minutes, without any larger plan, the four of us went to Nara.
Shibuya is one of the main centers of Tokyo, with a distinctive pedestrian crossing that has many sides and through which about 3000 people pass at every green light.
Let`s talk a little bit about the Japanese kitchen. As you already know, most of the typical Japanese dishes are based on rice (as a staple in the nourishing of Japan) and various kind of vegetables, fish, spices, sauces, and algae.
Since ancient times, the Japanese food was painted down with the term “five flavors, five colors, and five ways of preparing”: five tastes – sweetness, sourness, spiciness, bitterness, and saltiness; five colors – white, yellow, red, green, and black; five types of preparation – raw, boiled, baked, fried and steamed. Therefore, we are talking about delicatessen food, in which, in addition to taste, great importance should be attached to the scents and colors.
The main shrine that meets you at the entrance is nice enough, with its stark red color and golden ornaments. But this is Kyoto, a city with hundreds of spectacular shrines and temples, and the main attraction is not the shrine itself but rather the pathway that starts behind the shrine.
When I went behind, with seemingly endless arcades of vermilion torii (shrine gates) spread across a thickly wooded mountain, this vast shrine complex looked like a world unto its own. Thousands of torii shrine gates in front of me – feels like entering the world of Japanese mystery.
Today is Tanabata (the night of the 7th), a festival traditionally held on the seventh of the seventh month, often celebrated wherever there are children. It could well be that this feast has been revived in recent years since it was reported in 1910 that it was rarely celebrated in Tokyo, whereas now it seems to be a time chosen for young children all over the land to practice their calligraphy.
According to an old fairy tale of Chinese origin, the night of Tanabata is the only one during the year when the two stars Vega and Altair, known as the celestial princess weaver and her cowherd lover, may meet. The tale has it that the couple fell in love, and, although they were allowed to marry, they spent too much time with each other and neglected their work of weaving and herding. Thus, the weaver princess and her lover were banished by the heavenly emperor, her father, to live on the opposite side of the Milky Way. Once a year, on the seventh night of the seventh month, a flock of magpies forms a bridge so that they may meet. However, if it should happen to rain, the magpies are said to be unable to do this so that the couple must wait for another year. To avoid such a sad fate as befell the weaver and the cowherd, children demonstrate their industry each year by writing out some calligraphy. Bamboo branches are erected in homes, nurseries, and kindergartens, and decorated with wishes written out on tony strips of colored paper. The bamboo and decorations are often set afloat on a river or burned after the festival, around midnight or on the next day.
pic source: shoepress and fastjapan
I was walking through the sultry day. Walking, while too many things were growing inside me, many of which I didn’t even know how to name. I was out since I have arrived in Kyoto, and that was that morning at half past 6. My feet were hurting from walking whole day, I felt that with every step the new blister was sprouting on my feet. Kyoto is beautiful, I understood that, but I didn’t have time to think about it in that moment. Arturo Bandini was arising in me, I wanted to sit on the canal bank and to draw ships – failed, I wanted to buy a notebook – and to became a writer. To write page after page, to create characters and their decomposition lives, and then to decide to bury all of them, while going to infinity, as the day goes on.
Everybody sometimes has their bad days. My bad day was the first day I arrived in Kyoto. I do not know if the anger prevailed, or it was disappointment, hatred or fear of being alone in an unknown city, as I’ve lost a place to sleep for the next eight days.
Last night I had a dream. I was wearing stockings with pre-painted toenails, that I saw a few days ago on the internet as the latest craze in Japan. Only in these stockings, I was running around and trying to catch the sushi that was flying all over Tokyo, with my sweep net, as on the picture I found yesterday night. You cannot believe how happy I was.
When I woke up, I realized how much I miss Japan, although it passed only 10 days.