Departure for Tokyo and Seoul

Tickets, purchased and missed:

When I was in Tokyo in 2014, I was unable to get to the Ghibli Museum: the museum has been around for quite a while, but tickets remain hard to come by. They go on sale on the 10th of the previous month at 1000 (Tokyo time): which meant on April 9th at 2100 I was poised at the computer, having already plotted out which day I wanted. I had little choice: they were closed for a maintenance window of about 10 days all through my vacation, so I could book one day on either end of that window.

As you might guess, I'm a fan of Ghibli. But what, you ask, is "Ghibli?" Studio Ghibli is a film studio formed in 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. If you're not a fan of Anime, this probably isn't helping: go see the movie "Spirited Away" and then we'll talk. Most of the rest of Miyazaki's movies are superb as well. I'm not as familiar with Takahata's work, although I saw and enjoyed "Only Yesterday" a month ago. But Miyazaki has always been the big draw of Studio Ghibli - particularly outside Japan.

At the excellent Yayoi Kusama show at the Art Gallery of Ontario I learned that there's now a Yayoi Kusama museum in Tokyo. I attended the AGO show on April 7th, and looked up the museum in the next week - but the Kusama museum, like the Ghibli Museum, apparently sells out very quickly and months in advance. Too bad.

I had hoped to see the DMZ in Korea - and at such a historic time, too. But I left booking the tour too late: they're full up. I had hoped to see it - and that it should then be torn down! I have very mixed feelings about missing that: it's an awful, terrifying, fascinating place. But if I went there, Canadian Blood Services would have banned me from giving blood for a year. Tokyo and Seoul aren't considered Malaria risks, but the DMZ is. I just made my 75th blood donation at the end of March, and that's reminded me how much I'd like to make 100 before I stop being able to give blood. Travel outweighs blood donation (I've been blocked as a Malaria risk at least a couple times previously), but I also admit to a certain sense of relief.

One spectacular bit of alignment: the Buddha's Birthday is a huge celebration in Seoul (particularly at temples), and it happens on the weekend of the 19th of May - when I'll be in Seoul. As a dedicated half-assed Buddhist, I'm really looking forward to it. I had to go look up the form of Buddhism they practice: they have, reasonably enough, rolled their own. Korean Buddhism.

The reality of travel has always been that I love being other places - but I usually hate the process of getting there. The exception - as it often is - is getting to Lake Superior. The drive up is long but beautiful - particularly once you're past Sault Ste. Marie. I write this sitting by my departure gate in Toronto's airport two and a half hours before the plane leaves because you're supposed to check in three hours ahead but the ebb and flow of passengers and security theatre is such that it took me only half an hour to get processed, sorted, stamped and shuffled to my gate. It's a relief, but I'm still facing a couple hours of ... sitting. And sadly the airport wifi - which two years ago was quite good - has now slowed into unusability (at least at this end of the terminal). It's looking like I may put a significant dent in "David Copperfield" (always carry a book).