Sendai, City of Trees

pic credit goes to http://japantraveleronline.com

I’ve never been to Japan. Wait, I take that back. I had a layover in the Okinawa airport on my way to Australia or New Guinea or somewhere, back in the day.

But I haven’t been there properly, and I’d like to visit it. Let’s go there next.

I did some online searching about Japan—places that are a must-see or a must-experience. I came across Sendai, which is nicknamed the City of Trees.

Of course this caught my attention immediately, because I love trees.

When I moved homes recently, I had a few criteria for an acceptable place to live. One was that the house had to have at least one tree. The first place I looked at was just the right size for me, and it had a great big oak tree in the front.

It’s perfect, in a temporary way. I’m going to win at the game of life, and I don’t think I’ll end my days here, even with the existence of the oak tree.
Anyway, back to Sendai.

It’s in the middle of Japan and is the second largest city north of Tokyo. There are two streets in Sendai that have 60 zelkova trees on them, and in December, those trees are decorated with thousands of lights for the Pageant of Starlight.

Now, I don’t know this for sure, but I’d imagine that caring for those trees is a task not for the faint.

You know they have to be trimmed and maintained, (you can watch the video that I saw on this site…wowzers… click here)possibly fertilized, maybe watered, certainly checked for harmful bugs and diseases, since they are the stars of the show in December.

I don’t think I’d want to be the tree-care company. Losing face is a big deal in Japan, and can you imagine if any of those trees succumbed to the Asian three-horned hissing black beetle or got root rot or canopy crud or something? No sir, I would not want to be the tree company.

I have digressed, seriously.

Again, back to Sendai. I’d love to see Jozenji and Aoba streets and their lines of those fabulous zelkova trees.

There are other things I’d like to see in that city, but let’s start with that. And then let’s go roam the Japanese countryside.
Are you in? OK, let’s go. To the city of trees to feast our eyes and fill our senses and broaden our vision!

Riomaggiore: give us your life!

photo is from: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/italy/cinque-terre

Ever heard of the Cinque Terre?

No? OK, let’s make that our first destination.

It’s an area on the coast in Italy where there are five towns connected to each other by traintracks. You are going to LOVE it, I can guarantee it. (find out more about me here.)

I spent a week there once, and it has always been on my list of places to revisit.

We are going to drive into the town of Riomaggiore with no set plans of where to stay or what to do. Somehow, the little old Italian guy that met me before will know we’re coming, and he will take us to his little villa, which will somehow be available, and that’s where we’ll stay.

His villa is on the side of the hill. I guess that goes without saying, because everything there is on a hill. Hill is really the wrong word. Mountainside would be more accurate. The five towns of the Cinque Terre are colorful collections of little cube buildings, all in a jumble, stuck to steep mountain slopes that slide into the blue blue ocean at the very bottom.

These are towns that people draw and paint and photograph and make jigsaw puzzles of.
We’re going to go there and just hang for a while. Senor Italiano’s villa is small but adequate, and we can fling open all the windows for THE perfect view of the town below and the

Mediterranean beyond.

You’ll hate me at first that the villa is at the top of Riomaggiore. It means that to buy our daily bread, to pick our veggies from the street vendors, to get our coffees at the café by the quai, we will have to walk down about four million uneven stone steps. And then . . . yeah . . . back up all those steps to get home.

But seriously, it’ll be worth it. Trust me.
Time in the Cinque Terre is not the same as time in these United States. The minutes there have more seconds, the hours have more minutes, the days have more hours. Don’t ask me how.

They just do. So our coffee at the café, overlooking the cove with its bobbing fishing boats, will feel like it lasts for much longer than just an hour.
We will ignore the waitress who is a douchebag. Well, maybe she has changed since I was there last. Maybe she has triumphed over a life transition and knows that life is a winnable game, and maybe this will make her nicer than she was before.

But if not, we’ll ignore her. We don’t have to take in that kind of negative energy. Push it back, I say. Just give us the coffee and let us love your town and your ocean and your air and your sky!

So, this will be our first stop in my quest. Riomaggiore, town #1 of the Cinque Terre. It will be the beginning of my confidence rebuilding that life is a winnable game, and that by God, I’m going to win it!