Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?
*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?
Japan … It just blows your mind. Times & times over. My first ever days in this “land of the rising sun” have brought with them an air of mystery, appreciation and utter fascination. I have started making some friends – over Guinness, cake, coffee, a mutual interest in creative travel as well as the local food & culture scene. Obviously, you may say, as food & drinks always make people meet – and more so if you are a passionate driven foodie traveller with a constant appetite for life & cultural learning!
There goes word by someone who is used to speak several languages fluently, suddenly halted in her tracks of constant understanding and linguistic interaction. It is therefore so very interesting to first relying on observing Japanese people. In the sense that, everything they do, say or express, is done with utmost care and delicacy. Really. Especially towards me as a foreigner, I may say. Beyond the gentle politeness and smiling expressions, I am forever thinking, “so what is it that they are really thinking? When do they have their moments of letting their guards down, of freely and openly argue, of living, laughing and sharing? It is difficult to tell with this language barrier … as Japanese is not only different in words and letters, but also in concept of behaviour and way of speaking. But perhaps, it is also a cultural barrier that takes time, observation and learning, to overcome, assimilate and adapt to.”
I am deep in conversation and thought with Dannie De Fazio, an Italian-born world citizen who has lived and worked across five different continents and now calls Kyoto home. Interestingly enough, his area of research is … the Japanese Geisha culture! “I would love to stay here forever”, he says of his three years in Japan that have taught him a deeper understanding of this very delicate part of (woman) history in Japanese society, a new concept of beauty as well as – some Japanese. “I am still learning”, he laughs upon being quizzed for his rather excellent language skills. I can hear him make perfect conversation with his fellow researchers and professors here at Doshisha University in Kyoto, where I have been invited to give a speech about Creative Tourism and my round the world trip focused on experiencing creative travel around the globe. Dannie and I are today’s speakers in front of a group of students & professors at Doshisha University of Economics. I feel honestly delighted, and forever honoured, to be here giving this speech as a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of meeting, sharing & learning.
Fascinating. It is forever fascinating to listen to, and share some more understanding about Japanese culture with Dannie de Fazio. You can tell that he is totally enchanted with the concept of Japanese “beauty and art as expressed by the ancient Geisha culture“, the area of his research expertise here at Doshisha University. There are not many that have looked at this particular part of Japanese society over time – and certainly not as a man from ‘the West’. “I did not say this in my presentation, but being a man, my research is further complicated. The Maiko / Geisha culture is essentially a woman’s culture. It takes time, and patience, to obtain results and understanding from my point of view.”
Through this very delicate research focus of his, Dannie has not only achieved a better understanding of the Geisha culture, but essentially in my eyes, of Japanese society as a whole.
“Come with me Elena, as I will take you round the city and introduce you to some temples and two of the five Geisha districts. I have got a spare bicycle, so we can take the bikes and see even more!” Thrilled about this unique opportunity of having someone to talk to, who is just as fascinated by (and knowledgeable about) Japan, I join Dannie on this unique nocturnal bike trip around the city of Kyoto.
Full of impressions, food & memories from a perfect day out, I fall into bed soon after this picture was taken … What a brilliant way to start my visit of Japan! Have a look at some more photos of this fascinating country here:
Disclaimer: Thank you so much for supporting my stay in Kyoto, Japan through my accommodation at Doshisha University Guest House as well as paying for my lecture in front of the international team of students and professors. All opinions are my own.