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Tellin’ Stories – Terry George – Going for Geisha


Continuing my obsession of globetrotting – I was recently fortunate enough to find myself halfway around the world in a country I was really looking forward to visiting. Japan was a destination that turned out not to be quite what I was expecting.

I was anticipating seeing Geisha Girls on every corner of every street but they are illusive and don’t like to be photographed. I crossed many taboos as I chased after a couple who were dressed in splendid costumes thinking what a marvellous photo they would make. They didn’t stop for my camera and my paparazzi style of ‘chase and hassle’ was viewed as very bad form by a few other tourists who were tut-tutting on the pavement.  I also expected to see the youth of the country dressed in their ‘harajuka’ fashion but this style, of part Goth meets frills with a touch of Lolita, seems to be part of TV culture and not much in way of an actual scene.  However, I was horrified to meet one of the few harajuka girls around as she had gone to the extent of having her tongue split. Uurrgghh… fashion or not it was just too extreme for me.

Talking of preconceived impressions, I think that the movies have a lot to answer for because I envisaged a country that was awash with technological advances. For instance, I anticipated being picked up from the airport by a taxi bristling with hi-tech gadgets and a robot driver who would cheerily greet me in several languages before silently whisking me to the allotted hotel. It didn’t happen. What did happen though was that every time I went to the loo, my bum got a bath as jets of warm water was sprayed against my most tender of parts. I was surprised that such a technological country would have difficulties with wi-fi. Only the most expensive hotels seemed to offer this facility and I would have thought such a basic service would have been seized on years ago.  Having said that the Bullet Train is something special; with timings of departures and arrivals accomplished to the second. It’s sleek, fast and a beautiful thing to see and once embarked, the journey is a fantastic experience.

I knew it would happen one day. I might have had to journey almost 6000 miles but I have become a bit of a pussy magnate. I was told that some cafes in Tokyo had masses of cats for their customers to interact with… and when I say interact, I mean stroke… nothing more. The idea being that any stressed out Japanese businessman or hard-core pleasure seeker could take time out of their busy schedule and relieve anxiety with a fondle of a cat, while sipping a green tea.  It is supposed to be something special and as a result  is being copied in other cities across the globe. I thought it a cute idea but wasn’t impressed, although I suppose in a country whose biggest star is Hello Kitty it isn’t that surprising. Personally, I can take or leave cats but they appeared to like me by rubbing against my leg and jumping up wanting to be petted. I know the feeling.

A visit to Mount Fuji (no not to get film for the camera) was hampered by low cloud and rain so was a little disappointing. However, Hiroshima, the site where the first atomic bomb was dropped that signalled the end of the Japanese fight in World War 11, was a very thought-provoking place. How a place can return from such a disaster is amazing but, as we saw with the recent tsunami, the Japanese people are spiritual, stoic and industrious.

Don’t think I’ll be rushing back but if you’d like to see some more of my images please go to