Top Ten Reasons To Visit Tokyo

Top Ten Reasons To Visit Tokyo

“The overriding sense of Tokyo…is that it is a city devoted to the new, sped up in a subtle but profound way: a postmodern science-fiction story set ten minutes in the future.” David Rakoff

If you haven’t been to Japan you are missing out. I can’t wait to return.

1. It is so exciting. Whatever cool electronic experience or sleek new building we have in NY, they have ten of them.

2. Their subway system is crazy good, clean, efficient, on time, safe restrooms, vending machine heaven, huge shopping malls and delicious food.

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3. The food in Japan is outstanding and served beautifully. Everything is amazing but the sushi and sashimi will change your life.

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4. It is one of the safest cities. The Japanese aren’t big on scamming tourists. It doesn’t go with their mindset of politeness and duty.

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5. You can take a quick train and end up in an hour at a ryokan ( typical Japanese Inn and bath house) in Nikko and see the temples which is what we are doing. . Or go to Kamakura and see the giant outdoor Buddha if you haven’t already. (I have)

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6. Their museums have weird exteriors but interesting exhibits. There are a few exhibits I want to see this time.

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7. Tokyo street fashion is amazing and so entertaining to see. Even in this global society, it hits LA a few years later. Fashion changes so quickly in Japan that it is easy to find trendy inexpensive pieces. Fashion chain stores offer high-quality Japanese-made clothing in the latest styles — at reasonable prices. Halloween in Shibuya!!!!!

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8. Tokyo has the world’s best customer service and multi stage gift wrapping for anything you buy. It sometimes feels a little stalky as they follow you to the door carrying your beautifully wrapped purchase.

9.Tokyo has the most expansive sake list. Remember if you are drinking, Tokyo has very strict drunk driving rules for drivers and passengers so take one of the hundreds of cabs around at night.

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10. The most interesting thing about Tokyo is the juxtaposition of the old and the new. The unparalleled mass transit system and skyscrapers are next to shrines and paper lanterns. The fancy shopping malls are near small noodle shops and Japanese pastry stores. It is unbelievably crowded during the day, Nobody seems to sleep except on the train,  but it can also get very quiet late at night.

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For more Tokyo blogs

http://travelwellflysafe.com/2012/08/06/things-i-have-learned-in-tokyo/

http://travelwellflysafe.com/2013/06/11/onsen-and-ryokan-in-japan/

http://travelwellflysafe.com/2012/08/25/japanese-food/

http://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/things-i-have-learned-in-japan/

yo I sorano tabi o,

JAZ

Ten Reasons To Go To Southeast Asia

Ten Reasons To Go To Southeast Asia

“What we think, we become.”- Buddha

  1. Angkor Wat –the largest temple in the world is a big bucket list item for me.
  2. Best quality fakes.
  3. I like seeing monks walking around and not just at temples – at the airport, on their cell phones, shopping, in the mall, on public transportation etc.
  4. Street Food. I wish that I was as adventurous as my food hero Anthony Bourdain, but if it’s cooked, or has a thick skin like mangos and someone else eats it first, I will try it.
  5. I like condensed milk in my coffee.
  6. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are in Southeast Asia, and since the beach season never ends, you can live in a state of perpetual summer (like Los Angeles where I’m from)
  7. Chaos – crowded cities with motorbikes and skyscrapers.  Contrasts – people working in triangle hats in green rice paddies.
  8. Amazing Asian photo opportunities for my new Asian camera.
  9. Culture and History – different Eastern traditions, lifestyles, fashion, beliefs , languages, ancient temples, the Vietnam War and the terror of the Khmer Rouge.
  10. Buddhism was recently voted the best religion in the world International Coalition for the Advancement of Religious and Spirituality (ICARUS) Joanna Hult, Director of Research for ICARUS said “It wasn’t a surprise to me that Buddhism won Best Religion in the World, because we could find literally not one single instance of a war fought in the name of Buddhism, in contrast to every other religion that seems to keep a gun in the closet just in case God makes a mistake’” I love Buddhist countries. The best part of the story is they can’t find a Buddhist to accept the award because “The Buddhist nature is in everyone.”

 

Fly Safe,

JAZ

 

Everything The Internet Now Knows About Me From My Travel Blog

Everything The Internet Now Knows About Me From My Travel Blog

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends… The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

What countries I have been to.

Countries I like. Countries I hate.

Countries that I’m afraid to travel to.

Places on my bucket list.

The coffee addiction.

My screen name. My website.

Where I live.

My dog’s travel anxiety. My travel anxiety.

Where I grew up.

My spiritual views. My religious views.

My racial views.

My meditation obstacles.

That i have kids.

My camera skills.

Mistakes I’ve made.

My favorite quotations.

That I like art. My favorite graffiti art.

My computer skills or lack of.

My social media challenges.

That I’ve faced challenges.

Languages I speak.

My favorite band. My favorite music.

How I pack.

My favorite TV shows My favorite movies.

My favorite documentary movies.

My favorite foreign movies.

That I get car sick.

That I’m afraid on small planes.

My favorite books. My favorite authors.

My favorite restaurants. My favorite foods.

My favorite interests and activities.

My favorite countries to eat in.

My perfect travel days.

How many times I post a blog in a week. How many people read my blog.

and

What I look like in a hat and sunglasses.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Ways to Destroy The World

Nine Ways To Destroy The World

Destruction is a man’s will, Prevention is also a man’s will. It’s a man’s choice to choose between Destruction and Prevention.” Babu Rajah

1. One person at a time. We are all just doing the best for ourselves, our families, our religions and our country. Billions of people all doing the best that they can for themselves are causing a lot of damage.

2. Lack of education and stupidity –believing what is told to you instead of checking it for yourself or refusing to be reached by logic, fact, or modern ideas. Many people in third world countries don’t have access to obvious and vital truths about public health, sexuality, nutrition, all religions and conservation.

3. We have exhausted our planet’s resources and polluted it beyond its capacity to clean itself. If we don’t change how we take care of the environment, it isn’t going to matter whether we blow ourselves off the face of the earth or not.

4. Fundamentalist religion. We are living in an age of renewed religious wars based on tribalism, religious fanatics, fear of “the others” and no value on human life.

5. Nuclear power plants are on the rise which leads to more nuclear weapons of mass destruction and catastrophic meltdowns.

6. Global deflation affects everyone. The affluent nations still have stuff but fewer jobs, worse health care, more stress and more debt. The struggling nations are much worse off. Everyone is angry.

7. New diseases and viruses are evolving that can “destroy humanity”. They are usually weird, come from Africa or Asia and are transmitted by animals to humans. All illnesses due to environmental toxins are on the rise.

8. I just googled can hate destroy the world to see what people had to say and I was directed to websites spouting hate rhetoric for every race, country and religion. If you want to hate someone, you will find a group on the internet who hates them also. So I would have to say yes and with our advanced social media we can spread hate faster than ever.

9. World War lll  can happen with everyone having nuclear weapons and the belief that they are right.

I’m sure there are more. The future looks bad right now.   I wish that when the new society  arises, they will not look back and see that it was our human stupidity and selfishness that caused the destruction of most of the planet. I assume there will be a small part left and a peaceful, less complicated group of humans or somethings will thrive there.  When they tell our civilization’s story, I want it to be that we cared  and we tried our best to save it.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

Signs That You Are Still A Tourist In LA

Signs That You Are Still A Tourist In LA

Los Angeles was the kind of place where everybody was from somewhere else and nobody really dropped anchor. It was a transient place. People drawn by the dream, people running from the nightmare. Twelve million people and all of them ready to make a break for it if necessary. Figuratively, literally, metaphorically — any way you want to look at it — everybody in L.A. keeps a bag packed. Just in case.” Michael Connelly

You honk your horn in traffic.

You shop at the mall on Hollywood and Highland.

You are at the Fairfax Farmers Market on a weekday morning – hopefully not wearing cargo shorts and a fanny pack.

You haven’t worn jeans to a nice restaurant or the theatre yet. You haven’t been to the theatre in LA yet.

You still dress seasonally – wool in winter, white in summer.  You haven’t figured out that its scarves, boots, flip-flops and tank tops all year round.

You haven’t been downtown or to a museum that isn’t the Getty .

You are still having lunch at the Ivy for celeb sightings. The food is not as good as it used to be. You get excited when you see Richard Dreyfus at the drug store, Meg Ryan at Barneys or Madonna at Kabbalah. i have to admit I was happy when I saw Elton John having lunch with the kids.

You get excited when you see Tyra Banks online for the bathroom at the Arclight. You do go to the Arclight and not the “Graumans” Chinese  theatre right?

You don’t have a favorite Mexican restaurant.

Everyone knows the driving shortcut you have just found.

You rarely use valet parking and prefer to find a spot on the street.

You have not yet been on a juice fast.

You are not worried by the lack of rain.

Words like Santa Anas, fire season, earthquake kits and did any one feel that? are not part of your regular vocabulary yet.

You leave your car on South Beverly Drive and walk to Rodeo Drive. You still leave your car in one place and walk to all your errands if you can. You attempt to live somewhere where you are near public transportation.

You have not perfected your spray tan color yet.

You have barbecues in the winter. You still get a bit sad that there is no snow on Christmas.

You have not bought a winter coat even though there are days you need it.

You still prefer to eat in the restaurants that have a view of the ocean even though others are better and less expensive.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

Take Me To The Art – Seattle, Washington

Take Me To the Art – Seattle, Washington

“We use our minds and our hands to create our world.”   Jonathan Borofsky

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The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) was designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. It is one of Seattle’s privately owned public spaces. The city of Seattle offered developers the right to build larger developments in return for certain public amenities. As this is not advertised, most people do not know that certain lobby space, restrooms and rooftop gardens of downtown buildings are open to the public. The lobby space of SAM is fun, light and airy – good place to catch up on email.

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Jonothan Borofsky’s Hammering Man towers in the front of the museum. The hammer swings back and forth from mind to heart. His original concept was to have Hammering Men, hammering all over the world. There are many indoor hammering men of different sizes. The outdoor ones are in Seoul, Frankfurt, Basel , Dallas, Los Angeles and Seattle.

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SAM’s cultural statement is “ we connect art to life.” Art is displayed in similar groupings while juxtaposing with different cultures and time periods. The Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park are all part of SAM.

I loved one of the current exhibits called City Dwellers. It is a glimpse of India from the eyes of twelve modern Indian artists. The photographs were taken from an Indian perspective instead of a tourist one. India’s pop culture, history and religion has made it a place of contradictions. The artwork highlights this in the private and public sectors. (India Shining V – Gandhi with Ipod by Debanjan Roy)

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The Olympic Sculpture Park is part of the Seattle Art Museum. It was built on land that was once on the environmental cleanup list.  On my first visit to the park, I felt that it was about beautifying the urban landscape. The architectural space and scenery were much larger to me than the art. The park is free from dawn to dusk on beautiful waterfront property near downtown Seattle. (Seattle Cloud Cover by Teresita Fernandez)

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An art collector friend pointed out that it was an interesting, high quality outdoor collection. So i had to go back and see it again.  She was right and it is noteworthy.  The Eagle by Alexander Calder stands guard over Elliot Bay.

DSCF4155Among other sculptures are the serpentine steel plated Wake by Richard Serra,  Bunyon’s Chess by Mark di Suvero, Echo by James Piensa and  Father and Son by Louise Bourgious. The sculpture is a lot more impressive in person than in photographs. The combination of setting, architectural concept and art seems to fit with the Seattle aesthetic.  (Serra, di Suvero  Bourgious)

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The gallery scene in Seattle includes many Pacific Northwest artists and affordable art. Seattle is not known as a city of art collectors so if you go to a gallery and show some interest in an artist, they are happy to talk it. They will take you in the back and show you more work. I spent a long time at the Foster White Gallery.

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After seeing the small but thought-provoking exhibit at the not for profit alternative art space Soil, I was told about more galleries in the area.

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I had a plan but took gallery personal recommendations instead including restaurants and coffee places.  (Roq La Rue Gallery)

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There is an eclectic mix of contemporary art in Seattle and all the gallery people were welcoming and informative. Other cool galleries include Greg Kucera, Prole Drift, Punch, Bryan Ohno, Roq La Rue and James Harris. (Bryan Ohno Gallery)

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The art in Seattle ranges from serious to fun and quirky. Maybe it is the weather that influences the artists. It rains a lot which makes you appreciate a beautiful day. I felt that appreciation when I went into a gallery on a rainy Seattle day and found an unexpected piece of art that touched me and connected me to my life. (always my favorite art)

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Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Places That I Have Loved

Places That I Have Loved

“The town was paper, but the memories were not.” John Green

A fortune-teller told my mother that she would die at 87.  At 85 she began to get her life in order. By the time she died at 91, everything was in boxes and labeled with notes.  There was one box that had a note pasted on it which said,“These are places that I have loved. Perhaps you will like looking at them”. There were postcards, pictures, menus and a few photos from various travels around the world. I wanted to ask why she had saved them. What were the memories in this box that she wanted us to know?

There were photos from Japan. My mother loved her trip to Japan. They had gone with a group that matched senior citizens with Japanese families who wanted to practice their English. My friend Reiko and her father took my mom out for sushi when she was there.  She talked for a long time about how expensive that dinner was. There was a picture of her in a kimono smiling with her Japanese family.

There were some postcards from Brazil. The tour group was going down to the beach and casinos in Rio. My mother had been invited to a friend’s cousin for the afternoon and dinner.  Everyone told her not to take public transportation because she could get robbed. She and her friend went on the public bus. Everyone on the bus helped them, shared their food and wanted to talk. They had to change buses and the bus driver got out and took them to the next bus. They had a wonderful dinner with their new friends and drank caipirinhas (cachaca or rum sugar and lime juice). When they returned, they heard that most of their group had been robbed at the tourist locations.

She enjoyed Australia and Israel. I don’t remember her talking about Paris or Italy. I don’t know if she ever got there. She had wanted to see the Great Wall of China.

Travel wasn’t my mother’s passion. Theatre, Opera, Ballet and Classical Music were. I wasn’t surprised to see fifty years of playbills and programs and favorite opera tickets, but I was surprised to see this box. Travel is about pictures and stories and I didn’t know all the stories.

My mother was legally blind from the time that she was seventeen years old.  The doctors said it was from looking at an eclipse. I’m not sure exactly what she saw but it wasn’t what we did. When she was young, she made the decision to have the best life she could and not let it affect her. She studied at the Lighthouse For The Blind and knew everything that was available to her to make her life easier. The only difference I noticed growing up was that my mother did not read.  She told us the stories of every opera, operetta, ballet,  Broadway show and Shakespeare play. She is most famous with her children and grandchildren for her original Bunny and Squirrel stories. (who were suspiciously a lot like us.)

She developed her other senses to compensate for her lack of vision.  My mother knew the location of every seat in every theatre in NY. She knew by memory the address and phone number of everyone in her life. She took the subways and had certain markers on the stations so she could tell where to get off. She went with the crowd at traffic lights. She would walk down the street smiling so people would think she saw them when she couldn’t. She never wanted anyone to know that she couldn’t see.

As my mother got older, she was probably almost totally blind but she never complained and asked for help when she needed it.  She had many, many friends who were always willing to go somewhere fun with her. The alternative of staying home was unthinkable. One day when she was in her seventies she asked a bus driver if it was the 21 bus and he said ” What are you? blind?” and for the first time she said yes. She was proud of that story.

I also found color-coded envelopes with separated bills in them. I think we are the only country where all our paper money is the same size. I never thought about that. Whenever I asked her for money or small bills, she gave it to me. I always assumed that she could see it.

One day she said that she wasn’t going to travel anymore because of her worsening eyesight. She was in her sixties. I felt really sad. She said “Don’t ever feel sorry for me because I have the capacity for happiness and most people don’t. I understand that happiness comes in moments and I have had many happy moments in my life. I love NY and have a lot to explore here.”

She went swimming and took dance classes. (She had been a dance teacher) She went to the theatre, ballet, symphony or opera seven days a week. She went to all the museums in NY and loved discovering new ones and sharing them with us when we came to visit. She joined a hiking group on the weekends and started going to Atlantic City for a little gambling. She was always coming to visit her children and take care of her grandchildren. My mother slowed down to three to five times a week for the theatre after age eighty-seven because her arthritis was affecting her legs. But even at that age, her phone rang more than mine did and she had friends of all ages. For her ninetieth birthday, she went to the opera with everyone in her family who could make it to NY and then her favorite Chinese restaurant. Her friends gave her a huge friend party as well a week later (Her friends ranged from ages 40-100).

She never talked about traveling again after she stopped. I looked at the memories of a life that wasn’t mine and wished that I had paid more attention.   I wondered about those fragmented, arbitrary glimpses into her life. My mother left a very important legacy to me and anyone who knew her. You always have the choice to live the best life you can, or sit in the dark.

Fly Safe,

JAZ