The international organization known as Rotary promotes yearly travel that all people between the ages of 26 and 40, male and female, and of all backgrounds - should know about - because it is a Rotary-funded six week study aboard and anyone can apply to be a part of this significant life experience. If you are this age group - you could enjoy the kind of experience that is described in my notes in this article. To find out more about the program go to the international Rotary website and search for GSE - Group Study Exchange - and contact your local Rotary Club for more information.
Our adventures continued:
May 1st - Sunday:
My kind of day today - hot springs - the wonderful one that Aya and I went to - set in the nature of beautiful mountains minutes from Fukuoka - called Seiryu - found at 092-952-8848. I got on the subway by myself - went the wrong way and had to backtrack - and met Mika and Noriko at the Grand Hotel. We spent the day at the hot springs - I'm a natural now - as you walk in, take off your shoes - register - undress - walk into the area where the pools are (but first you rinse with small buckets with handles that you dip into water - before you ease into one of eight pools. I tried a new one today - a stream of water that comes down on top of you and hits your shoulders, or wherever, and eases sore muscles - while you sit on a stone placed as a seat in the hot water. It doesn't get much better than this. We had massages, slept on the tatami mats, had lunch in the café - and I could stay for the next week - it's made for ease - and sitting on the floor and soaking in the tubs feels natural. Mika and I had an interesting conversation about women as we were lying on the tatami mats. Women see the bigger world - and then they chose a man - and if the man has a good spirit it's ok - but if not it's a problem - because once a woman chooses a man in Japan, she lives in his world - as the Japanese way (in a bento box). If the man doesn't like what she does - he creates a bomb on top of her or an earthquake under her - and she feels insecure to leave for economic reasons. Husband and wife are not generally partners here - she says - it's more like Landlord or Dorm Mom. Women's status in Japan is less than a man's - there are not the same laws as in America that protect women and children from abuse. We visited Mika's friend - Yukiko - at her home and sat in her kitchen with more conversation. Women are asking the same questions - less world violence, more voice for women, a safe life, and we're concerned - we share and learn as we enjoy some dinner. We think that young men are becoming less responsible in society. This feels as if I could be with my good friends at home - it's the spirit of women's friendship. It's one of my favorite evenings here - homemade black sugar cake, a Japanese version of a house that we would know - and a flower arranging lesson. After dinner, we sit at a Japanese table, I chose a vase, and we unwrap some flowers (delicate ones - not the full bodied blossoms that we put in vases). I learn to cut the flowers in the water - because they last much longer that way - and I played with arranging the flowers into the prongs that stand them up. Yukiko has taken flower arranging classes for twenty years - and after my arrangement, she rearranges - and we see the difference - although I did pretty well too - and we enjoyed the splendor of the Ikebana arrangement. Yukiko presented me with some traditional Japanese house slippers that she makes from kimonos - a very talented woman - and an open gracious spirit.
The rest of the team is off in directions with their host parents today.
May 2nd - Monday:
Izumi has a good plan for tonight - and at 6PM we board a big ship in the Fukuoka Harbor so that we can see the coast line of the City from the water - and get a perspective of all that we've seen on land as it is spread grandly up the coast. We gather in the ferry building and are delighted when the incoming Japanese team joins us - as well as host families and Tomoi Kondou. We board - and a picnic of sorts is set at a long cabin table - and as we cruz, we step onto the ship's deck and watch the light change and the scenic panorama of the unfolding coastline. We could see Fukuoka Tower, the baseball stadium, the suspension bridge with the neon signs of the City under it - and later the big cranes for the port. The ship turned - glided swiftly through the waters - and we enjoyed this peace for a couple of hours while we laughed and played with each other. It's good to see the Japanese team making friends and fun with our team - and I know that our team will support the experience that they will have in America. It's been smart to pick the teams so that they can share with each other. The Japanese team's English is limited - but they plan to study for the next year - good plan to pick teams early so that there is time to study the language. We landed back at the dock - like we were coming into Ellis Island - and off to Izumi's next adventure - karaoke at the Hotel Okura. Down a set of winding steps - down a long hall of doors - we were in a Karaoke room - all set up for us to sing - with a “telephone-book-thick" book to chose a song - video screen, monitor with the words - Izumi, Antonio, Monica, Julia - and even Harry (he sang “I've Got Friends In Low Places") - took turns - spontaneously, with others joining. And the Chinese food arrived - plenty - along with the beer. I sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow" - and we enjoyed “We Are The People" (a song that moves everyone). Tomoi Kondou took Antonio and I home by cab - and I'm learning to find my way in the City.
This article is a series - so read on - and many days follow in our splendid adventure!
President/CEO of Take Charge Financial! | Joan's Blog and http://www.takechargefinancial.com
Joan Perry has developed her expertise over twenty-five years, beginning as an Investment Banker working on Wall Street and continuing as a Money Manager and Owner of a Securities Brokerage Firm. As President of Take Charge Financial!™, Joan initially founded one of the first female-owned Municipal Investment Banking firms in the United States known as Perry Investments Inc.in 1985, which then began retail and brokerage services to individuals in the mid-90s. She has in-depth trading and market experience from managing institutional and retail investment dollars in the securities markets, and throughout her career has managed billions of dollars in the bond, stock and options markets. Joan combined her personal and professional background in her book A GIRL NEEDS CASH© published by Random House in 2000 - a story of money in women's lives and the transition to taking charge of it. She received her MBA from Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management and undergraduate degree from Denison University. She was the founding President of the Los Gatos Morning Rotary Club and currently the Co-Chair of the Los Gatos, CA ‘Jazz on the Plazz’ Summer Concert Series.
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