Good Luck and Good Fortune

by | Mar 4, 2024 | Travel

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Wrinkly Bits

A Blog by Gail Cushman

Hello from Tokyo. The Cowboy and I are on a trip, seeing new things, meeting new people and we are both happiest when we in the middle of some pool of water. The Pacific Ocean is a big pool of water, so they say, and we are having a good time, another adventure. Never in my life did I believe that I would be so fortunate to travel as often and far as we do. It makes me happy, just to think of it.

Today, we went on an excursion, a tour of Tokyo. What a beautiful city. I had never really thought much about Tokyo and knew nothing about it, aside from WWII movies and a travel log now and then, but we did the tour. The pink cherry blossoms were out in force, along with some not-quite-there-yet white plum blossoms, but never mind, the cherry blossoms made up for it. We saw a replica of Lady Liberty, which surprised me, but it somehow seemed appropriate. Some movie was being filmed, and maybe they were pretending it was in the USA. The Tokyo Marathon is this weekend, and we saw a bunch of people decked out in running suits, practicing their take offs…not kidding about that! They looked pretty serious, and I didn’t get in their way!

Tokyo is very clean, no graffiti, no homeless, no trash on the streets. We asked why this was and one answer was that many cameras were installed, that people were prosecuted for defacement and that it was considered disrespectful to damage property. We were told there are homeless people, but they are encouraged into shelters, shown respect and care because it is dishonorable to mistreat the poor. Respect and honor, what great words and what great mantra.     

Then to the market. It is Thursday afternoon, and what else do people have to do, except go to the market, which mostly sold souvenirs. The market was packed, probably a couple thousand folks looking to buy something, or at least think about buying something. A hundred or more people dressed in traditional Japanese kimonos, men and women, and children mingled with the crowd, sometimes posing for pictures. I don’t know if men wear kimonos or if there is another name for the male garment, but the garments were pretty. Then we saw the good-luck wall. I’ve been lucky in my life, but I could always use a little more. Couldn’t you?

The way it apparently works is that you buy a number, trade the number in on a piece of paper which gives you a fortune. Now, not everyone in the world has good fortune, but we saw lines of people paying money…not sure how much it cost…Then I saw a sign that said, “If you don’t like your fortune, you can give it to someone else and trade it in for another chance.” Hmm, it sounds a little suspect, don’t you think. We saw a small group of young women who were going helter-skelter with the papers, trading and buying, buying and trading. They hung them out on a small clothesline and people appeared to trade them among themselves.

At the end of the market area, sat a gorgeous shrine, Buddhist with a Shinto temple next door. I think. Incense and prayers filled the area and it was packed with people praying. I took a photo, hoping that somebody wouldn’t confiscate my phone. Whew! But the overwhelming feeling was one of friendliness and that word again “respect.” Sounds so simply, but we felt welcome and safe. 

One reason Tokyo looks so clean and new is the damage caused by World War ll was so extensive that most of Tokyo was rebuilt, starting in the late 1960’s, Japan’s economy grew rapidly and the buildings are mostly from that time until now. Americans helped rebuild Japan, and we saw no feelings of animosity, only kindness, people went out of their way to help us. Seeing this kindness caused my soul to smile.

Okay, I might have missed something as I don’t speak Japanese and didn’t see the fortunes, very lucky, lucky, unlucky so I might as well pack it in. I miss the mountains and Montana, but these new things stir the imagination, “Hey Cowboy, how about building a Japanese waterfall in our garden?”

If you enjoy Gail’s blogs, check out her books. Newest book…Murder Almost…available on Amazon…soft cover, electronic, or Kindle Unlimited!    

Gail Cushman, Author

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