First impressions of Tokai

After a run of overcast and rainy days, it was with great delight that I woke up this morning to bright sunshine and just a hint of a gentle summery breeze. Tokai-mura, where I am currently installed in Logan's apartment, is quite a pretty town and not too big to be easily explored on a bike, so that is precisely what I have been doing.
We arrived in Tokai shortly after lunch on Monday, and quickly set out to get me a bike and buy some other essentials, food and so on. Most of the town is laid out along 2 or 3 large main roads crossed by the railway, but there are so many enticing little roads off either side that I cannot wait to explore. The houses and buildings are a mixture of modern and traditional Japanese styles, and many of the gardens are beautifully kept. There seems to be a huge emphasis on order in these gardens, with flowers of the same colour and height all planted in neat rows and small trees and hedges trimmed into perfectly round shapes. A lot more gardens also include a vegetable patch and small fruit trees. I have already seen many of these being tended to by bent-backed elderly Japanese in the traditional conical straw hats I would associate with rice growers. There are fields of rice growing everywhere. It is the most unbelievably lush green colour.
As I cycle past people, they smile and bow their heads, some even say good morning. I am slowly learning a few words of Japanese so that I can exchange niceties, but I need to learn much more so that I can make the most of their wonderful hospitality. Without fail, everyone is so polite and friendly. And so delighted with any foreigner who can say thank you or good morning in Japanese. This morning I bought a pair of cheap, lace-up shoes more suitable for riding a bike, and though I had to shrug off all of the assistant's questions apologetically, she actually laughed with delight when I thanked her in Japanese! Although I won't try to go into detail about the weekend in Tokyo in this post, the story was the same there. In every bar, cafe or restaurant we went to we were greeted like long-lost friends.
Well, that concludes my first impressions of Tokai. I think that next I will have to tell you about my adventures in Tokyo, not forgetting my first samples of Japanese food. So far, so good!


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