09 November, 2011

My little two-day adventure

I was at the star. Had a lovely view from the mountain-side hotel down to the sea.
I've just been the furthest south in Japan that I've ever been (not counting a stop in Osaka airport on our first ever day in Japan). Actually it wasn't all that far south...

And it was the closest I've ever been to Mt Fuji too. Here is the view we had this morning.

And I've just gone the furthest I've ever gone in Japan on trains and buses. I travelled there with other attendees but made my way home all by myself. It took over four hours. And it is the first time I've ever been to Tokyo Station...ever...and all of this I did by myself, without having a heart attack or cold sweats! I must be getting used to the place.

But why was I away down there? I had my magazine editor's hat on. But the story goes back to my writer's workshop that I went to in Hong Kong last year. There, among many other things, we were given ideas about hosting writer's retreats in our host countries. The idea of a writer's retreat is to provide some encouragement and incentive to other writers. Writing is a lonely business. When you are busy with other things, as most writers and certainly missionaries are, it is also hard to find the time to just write. It is also a time to pray for one another.

I mentioned these ideas to my Managing Editor and together we came up with the idea of hosting a writer's retreat/workshop in the 24 hours prior to a major mission conference here. It turned into something of a publicity event too as we spent time with those who came talking about our new Writer's Guidelines for the Magazine, which includes Editor's Tips for good writing. 

This magazine suffers from a lack of new writers and I'm seeing this as one way to engage and encourage new writers, particularly inexperienced writers and new missionaries. Trouble is, lots of people couldn't come to this one. So, it looks like we're going to have to travel more! I have this idea of putting on such events a couple of times a year in various places around Japan. Certainly the participants in the inaugural Japan Harvest Writer's Retreat/Workshop were enthusiastic about what we did and about future events. Yay! 

I ended up doing some other things while I was there, including talking to a publisher about a  book that a colleague is translating and wants to publish and meeting a Speech Pathologist from the US and talking about a little boy who she's seeing who also needs some Occupational Therapy input. Nothing like chucking on a couple of other hats while I'm at it!

To change tack slightly I want to show you a couple of photos of the venue. It was an old hotel, at least the part I spent most of my time in. The location was pretty isolated for Japan. But it looked over, not just Mt Fuji, but out to sea as well. 

More especially, you could look out to sea from the shared Japanese bath. Huge floor to ceiling windows on the seventh and eighth floors (one floor per sex). Can you see the windows in the photo? Awesome, but at night it was best to stay away from the window while bathing!

I had a traditional Japanese room. No toilet or bathroom in your room, because of course you want to go and luxuriate in a huge bath with everyone else (toilet was less glamorous and just down the hall like at college). This truly has taken some time (like 11 years) to get used to, but I can say that I enjoy a good Japanese ofuro every now and then. Yesterday's was particularly luxurious. In the changing area there were massage chairs (for a price) and a whole row of mirrors and chairs with all sorts of lotions and potions, hair dryers, etc. that guests were free to use.

In the bath itself there was the usual row of hand-held showers where you use soap and cleanse yourself before hoping in the communal bath. Then the bath was so lovely. Nice view! HOT, but with places where you could sit in bubbling water or still water or with jets pointed at your back. If you got too hot you could slip over to the chilly bath. If you weren't hot enough you could mosey on into the sauna. I came back to my room beautifully relaxed.

But this post has gone on long enough. Nearly bed-time. And tomorrow I'm going to have to get back into the urgent things on my calendar as well as do some follow-up on some networking that I did during my time away.

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