We are amazingly lucky today. Our guide is TV travelogue presenter Kit Pancoast Nagamura
. Kit is truly a Ranaissance woman. She is an editor, a columnist for the Japan Times, a photo-journalist, and a delightful person. She tailored our backstreets tour to our special interests, history and gardens.
We began at the Kiiyosumia Garden of Exquisite Stones. Kit, who the day before had taught haiku to a group of school children, posed by the Basho rock, inscribed with "The sound of a frog, jumping into an old pond"
Stepping stones allow one to cross water with no evil spirits following them.
This elegant, serene crane was unbothered by the close proximity of visitors to the garden
as he fished for koi.
The many rocks creating interest in the garden were transported from all over Japan by the Iwasaki family in steamships that belonged to their company. The garden served as a refuge for thousands of people during the great earthquake of 1923 and bombing in 1945.
Everywhere we went Kit met personal friends. This elderly couple run a mom and pop store popular with school children.
Next stop, Fukagawa Edo Museum, a reconstruction of the back streets of Tokyo, showing daily life in the 17th and 18th centuries.
such as vegetable storage,
and rice store.
Time for lunch, surprise, aboard the Orient Express.
That is, we enjoyed a set lunch served on Orient Express china prepared by the only Japanese chef on the Orient Express. Naturally, a friend of Kit's.
Then tea in the carriage.
Katsushika Ward, in the northeast corner of Tokyo, was the home of Tora san, The Loveable Tramp
, 48 Tora san movies were filmed between l969 and l995. The market area has remained essentially untouched since it served as a stage set.
Tora san had his first bath in the Taishakuten temple.
We approached the temple through the gate. The great, great, great grandson of the temple gate carver is still a wood carver in a shop near the gate. Another friend of Kit, to whom she introduced us.
The temple is famous for the carved panels surrounding the outside. This panel depicts time being burned up by fire. My absolute favorite since I have always been compulsive about not wasting time.
The perfect conclusion to the day, the Yamamoto tei tea house
Formerly the home of Mr. Yamamoto, who invented the spring shutter for cameras, this very traditional Japanese house is unique for its western room.
This room perfectly symbolizes the blend of east and west which Japan has accomplished so beautifully. Tokyo is the most up to date of modern cities, and yet they have managed to preserve all the best of their traditional culture. A pure delight.
Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more.