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I came back home Thursday night from my last trip to Kagawa, a trip that was way too short. Of course, I’m still completely jetlagged (some people are not really affected by it, I’m far from being one of them) but it’s out of the question to leave without anything new on this blog for any longer.

I won’t give you a day to day account of the trip. It will be something more thematic, not very different from what I’ve been doing with the Setouchi International Art Festival actually. Although I may wait until I’m done with the posts about my first trip to avoid confusions between the two. We’ll see.
That being said, today I will give you a short chronology of this trip, to show you what to expect in this blog soon, accompanied with a few comments and thoughts that don’t really fit anywhere else.

Takamatsu Megijima Ogijima

So, we left on June 6 from home to Toulouse airport where we flew to Frankfurt and then Kansai International Airport.
Nothing special in Frankfurt, our connection was quite short. Actually, I’ve noticed that Germany may be the only country where I went several times, but where I’ve never spent more than a few hours each time.
At the boarding gate, I quickly understood that the plane would be mostly populated with Japanese tour groups going home from various trips over Europe. Very few Westerners on the plane. I may have been the only tourist.

I like most Japanese people, I think you already know that. However, there’s one circumstance where I tend to want to shake them very strongly. It is when they travel in groups.
Although, even in this case, I have to admit that the worst Japanese tour group will never be as irritating as any French or Chinese tour group.
What bothers me with Japanese tour groups is that at times they seem devoid of a will of their own, as if they shared only one brain, usually the one technically belonging to the tour guide.
For example, In Frankfurt, when time came to board the plane. Our seats were in the back of the plane, in the last row and for some reason I was excited to be among the first to enter the plane.
Well, that didn’t happen.
As soon as the announcement was made to get ready to board the plane, before row numbers were even mentioned, a few Japanese people started to wait in line and they were almost instantly followed by about 200 others, regardless of their seat on the plane.
Gone was my small pleasure of walking through the empty aisles of an almost empty plane, instead I had to find a way through 50 rows of people rummaging through their carry-on baggage, walking against the flow because they went too far or sat in the wrong seat and whatnot.

Another example, a funny one this time, was shortly before landing. I pulled the back of my seat in upwards position, just because I felt like it, nothing to do with the upcoming announcement to do so because of landing, but a Japanese woman nearby saw me and what did she do? You guessed it, she put the back of her seat upwards as quickly as possible and soon, it was a few dozen people doing exactly the same thing, just because the person next to them had just done it.

Finally, on the flight back to Frankfurt, shortly after the plane had landed, it came to a stop on the tarmac, not parked yet. I suddenly saw, everywhere on the plane, heads turning left and right to see what other passengers were doing. Was it time to unlock seatbelts and start getting ready leaving the plane, or not? And as nobody would make a decision and take the initiative, nobody did anything. In that case, it was the right decision, but what if it hadn’t been? Although, maybe it’s better than if it had been a plane full of French people, half of the passengers would have got up, grabbed their bags and started walking towards the doors, ignoring the supplications of the crew.

Now, I criticize this lack of initiative and individual thinking from some Japanese people, but it doesn’t only have bad sides. For example, I’m sure that most of Japan’s social cohesion comes from that attitude somehow, and on a more selfish level, when I don’t know what should be done in certain social situations in Japan, I follow the golden rule of “doing whatever everybody else is doing.” It never fails to work.

The flight from Frankfurt to Osaka was eventless except for one small “incident” at takeoff. I’m not scared of flying, but I have to admit that I’m not a fan of takeoffs at all. This one was a pretty intense one. I don’t know if it came from the terrible weather over Germany or something else, but right after leaving ground, while gaining altitude, we were hit by very strong low altitude turbulences (or something like that), especially one particularly strong one that made the plane lose altitude or something. I really thought it had stalled and that we were going to be back on the land in a very quick and very painful fashion. The pilot even excused himself for such an unpleasant takeoff afterwards. Not something I want to experience again.

The rest of the trip went very smoothly. Arrival in Kansai International Airport was quick, and this time I knew how to put my fingers on the fingerprint machine (the trick is to slightly push). No time was wasted in the airport as a bus for Nanba was leaving shortly. Same thing in Nanba, the bus for Takamatsu just left us enough time to buy the tickets and some Onigiri for the road.

From then, this is what we did :

  • Monday 6 : Arrival in Takamatsu. Some time was spent downtown and on the Sunport.
  • Tuesday 7 : It was a “Shikoku Pilgrimage day” as we visited Yakuriji (the answer to last week’s question), Shidoji et Nagaoji, in other words, temples 85, 86 and 87 of the pilgrimage. We also visited Tsuda’s pinetree grove.
  • Wednesday 8 : Yashima hill, with Yashimaji (temple 84), Yashima’s aquarium.
  • Thursday 9 : I spent the afternoon speaking English to Japanese kids age 4 to 12. It was a very interesting, enlightening and fun experience. For the more curious ones among you, you’ll have to be patient for more details. 😉
  • Friday 10 : Trip to Teshima, in the rain. Dinner with Cathy Hirano and her lovely family. It was great to finally meet in person after so many months corresponding.
  • Saturday 11 : Despite a new threat coming from the clouds (and the many inches of water that had fallen during the night), we took the risk to get drenched on Ogijima. Lucky us, almost as soon as we got off the ferry, clouds became more rare to completely disappear in the afternoon. The end of the day was wonderful and not just thanks to the weather.
  • Sunday 12 : In the morning I met with two great people (one of them I had met a few days earlier) that I hope to see again soon. In the afternoon, rain was back with a vengeance to the point that we had to cancel both plan A (Oshima) and plan B (Ritsurin Garden), the only thing we could do at that point was to spend the afternoon strolling in the covered streets of Takamatsu. That day, I was very happy that Takamatsu is the city in Japan that has the most kilometers of covered streets.
  • Monday 13 : Little day trip to Honshū, more precisely to Okayama Prefecture. We visited Okayama castle and gardens, then we rode rental bikes among the rice paddies between Bizenichinomiya and Sōja, visiting a few temples along the way, and even running into a Kofun.
  • Tuesday 14 : Back on Kōbō-Daishi’s trail with the visit of Tennōji (Temple 79), Konzōji (76) and Zentsuji (74), where Kōbō-Daishi was born. Incidentally, his birthday was being celebrated for two days (his birthdate is said to be June 15, 774 although sources will vary).
  • Wednesday 15 : We left Takamatsu, spent the night in Izumisano, very near Kansai International Airport.
  • Thursday 16 : back home via Frankfurt and Toulouse.

That’s it.
I hope you will follow and enjoy the details of the trip that will come soon (but first I have to finish telling you about my first trip in 2009).

7 thoughts on “I’m back”

  1. I totally agree with you about 1. Japanese tourists travelling in groups 2. Annoying Chinese tour groups. Dont think I ever notice French tourists before so cant comment about them. But are they any more obnoxious than American tourists? XD

    When are we going to get the updates on the recent trip here?

    1. I’m afraid Chinese tourists are about to become the most annoying tourists (they already were in Paris last year) and that may last a little while before they learn the “how to behave when abroad” etiquette. It may even become worse as they’ll be more and more numerous, and more and more cocky.

      French tourists can be pretty bad too. Luckily I know how to avoid them (not many in France -obviously- nor in Japan).

      I don’t know about Americans. I mean, they’re among the worst too, but as my job when leaving in Paris was basically to manage American students spending the semester there, I know how to deal with them and put them back in their place when needed (a thing that seems impossible to do with French people, and a thing I have yet to learn how to do with the Chinese).

      I’ll try to write about this past trip as soon as possible, but I don’t want to mix it up with the current “storyline” of the first trip, that would be too confusing for most readers I’m afraid.

      1. Dont get me started on Chinese tourists. Even Malaysian Chinese takes offense if compared to or thought as Mainland Chinese!

        I guess finishing up on posts of previous trips would be best but I am dying to know about your current trip too! ^^

        1. I understand the feeling, I feel the same when compared to or thought as a Parisian. 😉
          But yeah, I usually can spot a non-Mainland Chinese from a Mainland one quite easily, and it’s all about the behavior (ok, and the clothes).
          That being said, I don’t imply that all Mainland Chinese are terrible people, I met a few decent ones. A few…

          1. That being said, i don’t imply that all Mainland Chinese people are terrible people, i met a few decent ones, a few…

            How condescending. I am Mainland Chinese. Some Chinese people do not have the best of manners but that’s because they as a people and a culture went through a lot of hardship. At this moment in time they may not come off as most refined but I can assure you the Chinese are going a journey of self re-discovery and they will learn how to present themselves well.

            You may write well and have refined manners, but your judgmental and condescending attitude is no better than some of the foul mannered Chinese tourists.

          2. Sorry you’re taking offense, but I seriously doubt the bad manners of Chinese tourists come from “hardships” (I even doubt that Chinese people who can afford to travel abroad have to through a lot of hardship in their lives, probably less than most of us).

            I really hope what you say is true (that they will learn how to present themselves), even if what I’m seeing tends to say otherwise. I’m afraid the more powerful China gets these days, the less respectful Chinese tourists are of other countries (and indeed, Chinese people I met 10 years ago or more were respectful and well mannered people – but they were not tourists, it’s true).

  2. I just returned from a lovely trip to France with my family. I have to say, without reservation that the Chinese tour groups are the worst I have ever seen. They elbow (can’t someone please teach them the basic “pardon” or “excuse me?), they are loud and they push and shove their way to the front of every attraction. Our tour guide, who was based in Paris, said that the reputation of the Chinese lack of manners is legendary. We witnessed it first hand. They have some serious work to do…

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