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:
April 15th - Friday:
Antonio San went off to Kyushu University in Fukuoka today, Monica San to Fukuoka Parish Priest Center, Julia San to Kyusyu Keiso Inc. , and Harry San to Kurume Fire Station.
It was a day of similarities for me. Teiko dawned her leather jacket (as I would from my closet), walked with me into town (as I would in our little town), stopped at the hair salon for a quick wash and dry (as I would in town) and when we arrived for our shopping trip we immediately liked the same things - without much language communication - it was easy to have a fun day.
We boarded the train in the middle of the small town, about four blocks walk (as if you were on the main line in the Philadelphia area) - and arrived in Fukuoka in a big new underground shopping mall (looking like Valley Fair) - about 30 minutes on the train. We breezed through there, and up on the street found lunch on a side street - entering through the sliding doors to a Japanese style bar and a lovely sushi lunch. We took our shoes off every where - including here for lunch. Teiko said that the best stores were across the street - Daimaru and L'Equipe Yoshie Inaba (Neiman Marcus and Saks of Fukuoka). We cruzed the designer departments - names that we both knew of famous Italian, American and French designers. Teiko headed for her favorite department - yep I like that one too - and we both made a purchase, a pretty silk skirt for me. Teiko's daughter, Miki joined us with her daughter (Teiko's grandchildren are very sweet and well mannered) - and we stopped on the lower floor to buy some chicken for later (it looked like the amazing food shopping at Harrods in London (only Japanese selections that made you stop in amazement to take it all in). Quickly we were back on the train - off at the stop in Ogori - and picked up some fresh vegetables from the farmer's market (like in Los Gatos, my home) and stopped at the fish store - for the party that night.
Hiroshi and Teiko have a beautiful Japanese garden outside their back door. There house is ample but not big - and there is a lot of clever storage area, like cabinets all around the top of the kitchen and a shed area on the back porch to store kitchen items. Their office is a front building that sits on the street - and the house sits in back. People from Hiroshi's Rotary Club started to arrive and a barbeque - like none that I'd seen before - was created in my honor. It's not true - I'm not getting skinnier here - there is an endless selection of fish (raw and cooked), meats, vegetables, ice cream, cakes - it was a very festive occasion out in their back yard garden. The people at the party seem to really enjoy one another - and the Japanese men love magic. Each of the men in turn had magic tricks and we all ohhed and ahhed and wondered how they did that. We sat for a long time at the picnic table and talked about our lives - and Ai translated. It's kind of a nice conversation when one person makes a comment, then translation, and then another. I met the second women Rotarian that I've met here - she's in Hiroshi's Club - where there are three women. She had lots of questions about the experience of women in Rotary in my country - and was it difficult for women there. I noticed that the men all sat at the tables, mostly by themselves (except I joined in), and the women did all the work. The women joined the table when the work was done. One of the men wanted to know if I was a natural blonde - and wasn't blonde a movie star (a compliment). The women laughed that the “dumb blonde" joke was the same the world over - and in Japan too (a similarity). My experience here is that people are so generous, and I had several invitations for sightseeing and dinner - and one to visit a company where they make fine women's clothing - stitched by hand - for famous labels - that should be fun.
April 16th - Saturday:
We we began our travels we landed in Fukuoka and went by train to Omuta - this route was from north to south - with Omuta relatively in the middle of the island - and our travels have taken us to points in between, including Ogori. Today we were headed to Yanagawa - between Kurume City and Omuta. Yanagawa is where Mr. Tachibana (he's the Rotary District Governor - and a direct descendant of the Shogun) and his wife own a hotel - where the Rotary District Conference is being held. Hiroshi drove us there with GPS in his car ( it's voice activated and you can also put in a phone number to plot your destination). Chizuka, the Tachibana's daughter, greeted us at the door of the hotel - and the others of my team were soon to arrive. It's a really picturesque spot - with canals running through the gardens -that they used to use to deliver sake and soy sauce - and tomorrow night we'll have a party on the canal boats. I'm staying at the Tachibana's house (they're my host family now) - and it's a big modern house behind the hotel.
We're the GSE team - decked out in our blue blazers - and it's the opening night of the District Conference - and a ceremonial party. The flowers on the table and the place settings reflect the high class status of Rotary in Japan. We're seated right in front of the stage with Izumi, Mika, Hisa and Kenji (GSE leaders) at our table. We all comment as the dinner service begins - because there are five glasses set - and they poured each of us champagne, beer, sake, red wine, white wine (we wondered which to drink) - along with another intricately prepared dinner. Various people spoke, and then we got up to greet each other. A famous movie director in Japan was there to speak in the afternoon and was there for the dinner - Obayashi Nobuhiko. When I chatted with him, he told me that George Lucas wrote nine sequels for Star Wars, but stopped after six - because he determined that he needed to create movies called Star Peace (Rotary has stood world-wide for ‘peace') - and that his movies were also about Japanese culture, nature and people living together in harmony. Then there was magic - yes, the entertainment was a magician who we all enjoyed. Many people throughout the evening recognized the GSE team - we stood for recognition, the magician was playful with us, the RI representative acknowledged us - and we received the “happi kimono" from the District Governor.
This article is a series - so read on - and many days follow in our splendid adventure!
President/CEO of Take Charge Financial!
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.
Share your comments and questions with us at Joan's Blog - and see us on the web at http://www.takechargefinancial.com The international Rotary website is http://www.Rotary.org