Monday, May 21, 2012

Family Reunion in Venice

For many Japanese people, Italy is a dream destination. In Japan, Broadcast Satellite TV programs featuring Italian towns and villages run almost every weekend. Italy has the largest number of World Heritage sites and is one of the most popular destinations for Japanese tourists.

My wife, daughter and I had a chance to visit there and to appreciate its historic and traditional buildings, breathtaking architectural landscapes, natural beauty and rural villages during Japan’s Golden Week holidays. Our tourist guide was my son who has been enrolled at a Venetian university since last September.

He made sure to take us to St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco in Italian), which is the most famous of the many churches of Venice and is one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world. Located just off the Grand Canal, the gleaming basilica overlooks the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) and adjoins the Doge's Palace.

Another pleasant trip was strolling along the cobbled streets of Milan. Amongst its splendors were the many types of traditional architecture all about us. However, what most thrilled me in Milan was when I stood within Santa Maria delle Grazie just in front of “the Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci.

A great experience many tourists would rarely get to partake in was a visit to an ordinary house in an Italian village. My son’s roommate was kind enough to take my family to his home and to treat us to a typical Italian lunch with good wine. He also showed us around the historical sites there and I felt as if I were immersed in its culture.

I was so happy we were able to make the best use of the short time we had there and to find such a relaxing place to stay in with my family.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Azaleas are at their best

My daughter is safely off to college, the weather has become more comfortable, the days grow ever longer and the azaleas are in full bloom. Finally, spring has truly sprung, and one of its most relaxing pleasures is to take in all the beautiful flowers while having a cup of hot black tea on the wood deck in my garden.

However, these relaxing moments seem to happen less these days. We had a very long winter and too much snow this year. Last week our area had unusually strong winds. Not to be outdone, the very temperate central Tokyo area was pummeled by hail. Most unusual of all were the many tornadoes that surprisingly struck the Kanto area in the early part of May, something I cannot ever recall happening before. It looks like abnormal weather is becoming normal in many parts of the world.