Libmonster ID: U.S.-1416
Author(s) of the publication: V. KABYTOVA


I had a chance to visit the Hagia Sophia Catholic University more than once, where my friend Galya works. Having arrived in Japan in the mid-70s, she quickly found a job in her specialty, which is not always possible to achieve in Tokyo, especially for a foreigner. She was very lucky.

The university is located in a new modern building of light gray color, like most houses in the city. In the courtyard there is a green garden and a fountain. There is also a lot of greenery around the university, and the street leading to it is full of cherry trees and, they say, is extremely beautiful in spring, during flowering. Once we met two young nuns in the courtyard of the university, dressed in white (in Japan, white is the color of sadness, and black is the color of celebration). The young girls politely bowed to us and allowed us to take pictures.

The university has beautiful bright classrooms, silent high-speed elevators, and offices with soft dark gray carpet. The university library is very large and rich. Gali's office has a huge number of specialty books, albums, and dictionaries. There is also a large audio and video library, full-length and short films are stored, mainly based on works of Russian literature.

The Russian department is mainly attended by girls, with a total of 40 students. They want to get a good education, and few people then work in their specialty. Graduates either get married or work in family and other firms. In addition to practical language classes, Professor Galya-sensei teaches a course on Russian literature. The main content of classes is the theme of the little man in the works of A. S. Pushkin, N. V. Gogol and F. M. Dostoevsky, since this issue is very close to the Japanese consciousness and occupies a fairly large place in the national literature. At that time, the department employed eight people. Three Russian women-wives of Japanese men (from Moscow and Leningrad) - are philologists by training. Other teachers include one Japanese, a former Soviet citizen from the Far East, and Japanese philologists. The head of the department, of course, is Japanese. Japanese students teach theoretical courses in Japanese, while Russians, as native speakers of the language and culture, teach practical classes.

In Japanese universities, tuition is paid and very expensive. There is also a postgraduate course at the university. Later, I met a graduate student named Naoko. Then she accompanied me to Disneyland. When I returned to St. Petersburg, I received a letter from her saying that she was lucky: she got a job as a translator in a lumber company.

Of course, interest in Russia, the Russian language and culture is not as high as in Europe, but it is growing noticeably. One of the founders of the department was a Russian emigrant, noblewoman Lidia Pavlovna. It came to Japan long before the Second World War. During the revolution of 1917, she ended up in China by the will of fate, and began teaching Russian. After the October Revolution, she wanted to return to her homeland by all means. But one well-wisher convinced her that this should not be done, as her arrival could end tragically. At first, she wanted to go to Canada, but then she ended up in Tokyo. There she lived for the rest of her life. Lydia Pavlovna died relatively recently, she was more than a hundred years old at that time. As the oldest resident of the city, she was even shown on Tokyo television. This woman taught Russian language and literature for many years. When she left her job due to her age, it turned out that she did not have enough money savings to buy an apartment. Lydia Pavlovna was living in a hotel at the time. The innkeeper said that she could keep her room as long as he was alive, either for a small fee or for free. But he did not leave any written instructions to the heirs on this matter. And after his death, a lonely elderly woman found herself practically on the street, as the new owner asked her to vacate the room. And then the Russian language department of the university, especially my friend Galya and her husband, came to her aid and rented a separate apartment for her at their own expense. Then they put her in a comfortable hospital, where she was well cared for, since she could no longer live alone and take care of herself.

Lydia Pavlovna was a wonderful person, had a high culture, was well educated and very intelligent. When she passed away, the question arose of where to bury her. She had no money for a funeral, no family or friends. And then a Russian priest, Father Nicholas, who heads an Orthodox parish in Tokyo, came to the rescue. And again - my friends, as well as Japanese colleagues of Lidia Pavlovna and her graduates.

Ending. For the beginning, see "Asia and Africa Today" No. 2, 2004

page 53

Another interesting person I met at the university was Catholic priest Janes Mihelcic. I met him back in 1978 in Leningrad. He has lived in Tokyo for more than 20 years. Janes was educated at a Jesuit college. He worked in Ireland for a while, and then the mission sent him to Tokyo. At the University, Yanes gave lectures on linguistics and the basics of Russian grammar. One of my friends, Vera, taught at a summer seminar in Duny, a resort village near Leningrad, and that year Mikhelchich, as the leader and curator of the group, brought Japanese undergraduates there. Vera called me and said that she wanted to introduce me to an interesting person. When they arrived at my house, she gave me a riddle, asking me to identify his nationality and occupation. I was looking at a rather young man of about 38, tall, dark-haired, gray-streaked, brown-eyed, athletic build. He was dressed in a dark blue denim suit of a fashionable cut with small pockets on the sleeves and shoulder straps on the shoulders. He was standing in the doorway, smiling politely. "Well," I said, glancing at him, " the type of appearance is certainly Mediterranean." To which he said:"It's warm!" I continued, " Certainly not an Arab." "That's right," he agreed. And I concluded: "Probably Albania." Vera nodded, " I almost guessed it. He's from Yugoslavia, Slovenian." So ended our little ethnographic guessing game. Over tea, a friend asked me to identify his occupation. Listening to his manner of speech, I noticed a somewhat singsong, slightly monotonous intonation. The accent was purely Slavic, but very slight. And I gave up. Then Vera told me that he was a priest, although he looked quite secular.

Later, he repeatedly brought groups of students to Leningrad to practice at the Institute of Culture. We met him once. He gave me a gift from my friends, and we went to the monument to Alexander Pushkin on the Black River. When I spent a month in Tokyo in 1991, we went to see the Asakusa Shrine, one of the few remaining buildings in the city after a terrible earthquake that occurred before World War II. There were many children with teachers in the temple. We stood at the huge censer to wash away the dust of life, and admired the beautiful pagodas. I found out later that in addition to teaching, Janes conducts services in the university's church, confesses and communicates to the faithful. And, of course, he pays a lot of attention to individual work with students, especially with those who find themselves in critical situations. He helps them understand themselves when they are trying to solve the "damned questions of youth", and more than once saved some from suicide attempts with his spiritual generosity, kindness, and timely advice. Father Janes lived in a monastery. His salary was purely symbolic. He took some money from the university's cash register for basic necessities. He was granted the right to freely enter the city. Sometimes he went to visit friends and, of course, to museums, temples and parks with students. Later, he went to work in Russia, where he served his vocation in the Moscow region. Then he left for Bishkek. I particularly remember our conversation at the very first meeting in Leningrad. I asked him then if he felt nostalgic for his homeland, if he missed his native language, living in one country or another. And he said: "I think that a person should live in a place where he can bring as much benefit and good as possible."


The most beautiful place in Tokyo is definitely the Imperial Quarter. The Emperor's Palace is located in the historical center. It is built in the form of a low white pagoda with a brown roof and is surrounded by a hedge of shrubs with pink flowers. Near the palace -a lake and around it-channels, through which light elegant bridges are thrown. The ground is covered with thick short green grass, and low broad-coniferous pines grow everywhere, similar to Mediterranean pines. The air is clean and fresh. The entire palace ensemble creates an impression of spiritual peace and quiet. Security doesn't catch your eye.

The quarter where the Asakusa Buddhist Temple is located is also interesting. The temple fulfills its religious purpose to this day, but at the same time it is also a museum. Since the tourist season is over, we hardly saw any foreigners there. But there were groups of children with teachers everywhere: they came to worship the wall, where there are urns with the ashes of famous people, take a walk and visit the temple. Not far from the entrance is a large censer. If you light a fragrant sandalwood stick, the incense smoke will envelop you. It is said that it helps to strengthen health, faith in the good and drives away dark forces. If you want to enter the temple, you must take off your shoes.

The most popular tourist destination is the Ueno Museum District. There is also a wonderful zoo with a favorite Japanese panda. Ice cream, juices, soft toys, cotton candy, sweets, iced tea and coffee in jars are sold at every step. In the zoo, polar bears, seals, walruses and penguins are the worst off. They live in an artificial climate, which is created by powerful freezers. But they're still very hot and uncomfortable, poor things.

The National Art Museum is also located in the same block. I should note that without special support or training, there is little that is clear to the average visitor. But the Museum of Modern Art turned out to be much more accessible for perception. Especially since at that time there was an exhibition of Yuri, a Russian artist who lived in the apartment of my friends (the one they bought for their daughter), of course, using it for free. His paintings were symbolic, but Kodo liked them very much, and even bought two for his home collection. He also helped Yuri organize the exhibition with the help of a friend of his late father. In the same museum, we attended a reception organized in honor of

page 54

Russian artists from Khabarovsk. We went to a restaurant, and from there, together with Kodo, to visit a famous Japanese TV actress, a performer of folk songs. I must say that her apartment in the new building was also quite European-style. We sat on a semi-circular sofa with light upholstery and drank black tea from lovely cups of Lyons porcelain. By the way, Chinese porcelain is also very popular in Japan. The hostess and my friend were sitting on the sofa in the Oriental style, in Turkish. They spoke quietly in Japanese, though not for long, given my presence. Then the hostess gave me a beautiful bracelet, which I keep to this day, and an audio tape with a recording of my concert of folk songs. This actress did not specifically study anywhere, she inherited a family tradition.


The Japanese, of course, offer their guests to visit the main street of Ginjo, watch a performance in the Kabuki Theater. The theater building looks like a Buddhist temple. And around - modern buildings. The first performances of the theater were held in Buddhist temples in the XIV century.

The stage is connected to the auditorium by a bridge about two meters wide. This creates the possibility of contact between the audience and the actors when they go to this bridge (in modern theaters in Russia, actors also began to go out to the hall to communicate with the audience. And at the Baltic House Theater in St. Petersburg, the audience sits on benches without backs, and the benches can rotate if necessary according to the director's plan). On the stage of the Kabuki theater, young men in gray clothes are sitting among the characters. They serve as stagehands. No one pays any attention to them. Unfortunately, during the daytime, the theater offers only one-hour performances for tourists and, probably, you should not spend time and money on this exclusively tourist attraction. Artists show a small part of the performance as an example of ancient art.

When I was in Tokyo, I remembered the brilliant performance that the Kabuki Theater in Leningrad showed in full. We watched it in the BDT premises. The play had four acts. The group showed a famous medieval drama about a mother who lost her only son. All her life she had been searching for him, wandering around the country. The main role of the mother was played by a famous tragic actor. He was 70 years old at the time. His game was truly brilliant. He portrayed his mother's grief so faithfully that the audience had tears in their eyes. Of course, we only listened to simultaneous translation through our headphones. But that wasn't the main thing. The actors ' faces were white masks: they were covered with a thick layer of whitewash, only the black-rimmed eyes and brightly painted lips stood out. Their facial expressions were rather stingy, their gestures restrained. But the look in his eyes, and mostly the tone of his voice, was deeply moving. At that moment, when the actor who played the role of an unhappy mother read her tragic monologue, standing in the center of the stage with his long hair down, it was impossible not to empathize with him. And despite all the strangeness and conventionality of traditional Japanese theater, the audience perfectly understood it.


One evening, Kodo and I went to one of the most expensive and prestigious hotels for a tea ceremony, where he was invited by one of the patients, a middle-aged lady. He immediately warned me that it was unlikely that I would be thrilled to see this ceremony, since its deep philosophical meaning is understood only by initiates. He doesn't consider himself one either.

The tea club rented one small room in the hotel. There were straw tatami mats on the floor, and the club members were dressed in kimonos, the women in bright blue and turquoise embroidered with flowers, as well as red and white with a pattern, and the men in dark ones. During the ceremony, everyone sat on the floor on their knees. In the center of the room is a large teapot-samovar made of dark metal. It was filled with a very thick dark green tea that looked a little like mashed soup. Those present drank it from cups that resembled bowls, also dark in color. Japanese sweets were served for tea. All participants in the ceremony were silent. This circular, silent tea party symbolized, as it seemed to me, the unity in the thoughts and feelings of all present with something higher and among themselves.

We also sat on the tatami mat and sat on our knees for quite a long time, carefully watching the ceremony. Of course, we have not come to the very beginning of it. My friend said in advance that it is very difficult and exhausting to pass such a test from beginning to end. We stayed there for a little over an hour. Patient Kodo gave us a box of Japanese sweets. However, my friend did not recommend eating them, noting that they taste like candied lime.


The national character of the Japanese is clearly manifested in the field of service. Every evening, on our way home, we stopped at the charming, small and cozy sweet shop "Mutter Rosa". Its owner was apparently a German woman. Very young Japanese girls and young men aged 17-18 worked in the store. The display case held a variety of cakes, buns, pies, and other confections, no less than forty types. When we were standing at the window and choosing a product, the sellers did not seem to look in our direction at all and never came up to us to offer or, God forbid, impose a product. But when we already decided on something, then, sensing it with some inner instinct, one of the girls with a smile went to the window and, taking a spatula with her thin fingers, gently put each product in a separate paper bag and fixed it on top with a paper clip. And then she handed the bags to the boy, who carefully took them, put them in a large branded bag and passed it, as if on an assembly line, to the cash register. The cashier girl was knocking out a check, thanking us for the software-

page 55

Kupki was still smiling and bowing slightly. The young packer also handed us our purchases with a bow and words of gratitude. There was a feeling that you did not buy buns and cakes, but received them as a gift. The whole shopping process turned into a small celebration, a ritual. The employees of the store behaved flawlessly, were friendly, helpful, but not intrusive. Shop assistants always wear uniforms: girls wear white blouses with a black bow and black skirts, boys wear white shirts, black ties and black trousers.

As for large shopping centers, such as Tokyu or Shibuya, they are huge complexes and usually occupy multi-storey buildings of modern architecture. These centers are located near the metro. There is always a parking lot nearby. In the courtyard - a green square, in the center of it - a fountain, and around-cafe tables. Sales halls are open on all floors. In the store, the floors are connected by escalators, there are spare side stairs and large elevators. All employees wear uniforms. In one of these stores, elevator operators were dressed in red suits: short red jackets with blue collars, white blouses, blue skirts, red shoes and blue beanies. Saleswomen in the departments worked in white blouses and dark skirts.

In the shopping center there are always cafes, restaurants, bars and eateries, as well as leisure centers; for children-a room where an employee of the company is on duty and where there are many toys. You can safely leave your child there. For adults, art exhibitions are periodically organized, such as" Meissen porcelain"," Antique lamps"," Paintings by Francois Millet", etc.Usually the buyer goes to the store, selects the product and pays for it, and then leaves his address. In the evening, his purchases are delivered to his home, of course at the expense of the company. The salespeople of these stores are not just polite and helpful, they are well-trained, accurate, helpful and intelligent. They always work silently, with a constant smile, but without obsequiousness. In the music department of a large supermarket, a young pianist in a white blouse and long black skirt sat in the lobby all day at a black piano. She performed well-known pieces of European classical music for visitors.

Large shopping centers resemble pavilions of international industrial exhibitions or museums of modern applied arts. Customers are offered such an abundance and variety of products that sometimes it seems even excessive.

If it's raining outside, they always give out long plastic umbrella cases at the entrance to the shopping center, so as not to get the floor dirty.

During sales hours, from 15 to 17, discounts reach up to 50 percent. At this time, male barkers loudly announce the start of sales, inviting customers to take part in them. All sales halls are equipped with excellent advertising, although it is not intrusive. The Japanese have a sense of proportion.


Japanese Disneyland is a huge park with countless attractions. Naoko and I got there in a torrential rain and literally swam through the streets of the park, despite the excellent drains and perfect pavement. In addition to the entrance ticket, you need to buy a separate ticket for each attraction. This is very expensive. We saw Cinderella's famous castle, got into the cave of horrors, where thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and glowing ghosts jumped out of the walls at us. The children, of course, were delighted. Then we visited the Caribbean Pirates pavilion, where on an island in the middle of the "ocean" there was a pirate ship, a sailing schooner, and bonfires were burning on the shore, and pirates were roasting meat on a spit. There was a house not far from the shore, and a pirate was standing on a brightly lit balcony, smoking a pipe. The black sky was dotted with bright stars. A warm breeze was blowing. The Ocean was completely calm. The moonlight glistened on the water. Of course, all these pirates were represented by electronic dolls. But it looked pretty convincing. Then we boarded a boat and went down the "mountain river". At one point, the boat plunged down into a waterfall - so skillfully was the atmosphere of adventure recreated. Elsewhere, elephants strolled through the park, trumpeting loudly, and electronic hippos swam in the river.

It is impossible to see Disneyland Park in one day, even in good weather. After the walk, we had lunch in the self-service cafeteria. Of course, it strongly resembled our canteens with complex lunches. But unlike them, there was no crowding or jostling. People behaved calmly, restrained, talked quietly, only the children vigorously discussed their impressions. The prices in the cafeteria are the same as in a decent Japanese student cafeteria, and the quality of food is no worse than in an expensive restaurant.

In Disneyland, the most interesting thing is to watch the electric parade, which happens, of course, in the evenings.


While in Japan, I decided to definitely visit the legendary Fujiyama. Kodo and I went there early in the morning. Mount Fuji is located about 250 kilometers from Tokyo. Since there are always heavy traffic jams in the city, Kodo decided to meet me on the outskirts, at the final metro station. There was a problem, how do I get there alone, without knowing the language. On that day, no one who knew Russian could accompany me. And my companion was his non-native mother. She did her job perfectly. When she put me on the train, she explained to the driver where I should get off, and showed me 45 minutes on the clock face. Of course, she already had a lot of experience with Russian guests: they often visited their house*.

* Among the Russian guests of this house, you can name such famous representatives of the creative intelligentsia as Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya, Sergey Yursky, Oleg Tabakov and many others.

page 56

Kodo met me on the platform, and we got into his white Mercedes and drove out onto the highway. The surrounding area of Tokyo is very picturesque. On both sides of the road are low green mountains. The landscape is somewhat reminiscent of the suburbs of Sevastopol. And at the foot of the mountains, along the road, you could see the houses of farmers, beautifully manicured fields and vineyards. The houses are mostly light-colored, often covered with white plaster, with brown roofs. A lot has been written about the roads of Japan. But even though we were driving at an average speed, it was as if the car was just flying... There were relatively few cars on the highway, as usual on a weekday.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant on the shore of a beautiful mountain lake. Rubber dinghies that looked like colorful birds bobbed on the water. Children ride them on weekends. Kodo said the suburb is a popular holiday destination for Tokyos. There was a large stuffed brown bear on the restaurant's landing. The choice of dishes was great: both European and national dishes. In general, in Japan they cook very tasty. The menu is full of vegetables, fruits and seafood. There are all kinds of restaurants in Tokyo and, of course, Russian ones too. Most of all, Japanese people love Chinese restaurants. After the waiter takes the order, he brings you warm white terry hand towels sealed in plastic bags. The table setting is European, although there are always chopsticks.

After lunch, we started on our way, and at about two o'clock in the afternoon we were at the foot of the mountain. Despite the clear day, the mountain was shrouded in fog. As we gazed at the misty outline of Fuji, we felt its beauty. I remembered the poems of the poet Basho:

Fog and autumn rain. 
But let Fuji be invisible, 
As she pleases the heart.

There is a good road leading to the top of the mountain, which allows you to reach an altitude of 2500 meters. And for the next 1,200 meters, pilgrims usually walk, with backpacks, sportswear and shoes, to reach the top before dawn and see the sunrise. A guide approached us, offering his services. But I had to give up, because the ascent to Fuji would take a whole day, or even two, with an overnight stay. Kodo, on the other hand, had to get home in the evening to go to work the next day in the morning. Climbing Fuji is hard work and requires special training. So we contented ourselves with taking a walk at the foot of the mountain, taking pictures in a samurai costume, drinking a cup of hot black coffee, and heading back.

We stopped several times to admire Fujiyama from afar, and remembered how once in Leningrad we went together to the Hermitage to see the exhibition of paintings by Hokusai "100 views of Fuji". And how Kodo, despite his poor knowledge of the Russian language, tried to explain to me the symbolism of these paintings. Contemplation of Fujiyama evokes a sense of connection with eternity and peace of mind.

They were approaching Tokyo in the evening. And then I was presented with a magnificent picture of a sparkling, iridescent fantastically beautiful city. It was truly a fabulous sight. As much as daytime Tokyo looks a little monotonous, so evening Tokyo is striking with a riot of shapes and colors, glowing advertisements and brightly lit storefronts. Evening City seemed like a celebration of color design to me.


We spent two days in the resort town of Kamakura on the Pacific coast. There is a beautiful architectural reserve there. The famous 30-meter-high Buddha statue stands in the park. If you go up to the Buddha's head, you can see the coast through his eye sockets. The park has several beautiful lotus and red fish ponds, incense burners and many ancient pagodas.

The town itself is very cozy. Almost all the houses are one-story or two - or three-story mansions. There are cozy cafes, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops at every step.

We stayed at the university hotel. In the past, this mansion belonged to a teacher at Hagia Sophia University. Before her death, she bequeathed it to her university. The house is surrounded by green lawns, neatly trimmed trees and shrubs. The walkways are tiled. The architecture of the house is quite traditional. In the lobby there are numerous oversized slippers without backs. The unwritten rule of the Japanese is "When you enter a house from the street, take off your shoes." When you enter the lobby, you take off your outdoor shoes and put on your slippers. When you go up to your room, you leave them in the hallway and put on your indoor slippers. And to go out on the balcony, you need to wear balcony slippers. When entering the bathroom, leave your indoor slippers and put on your bath slippers. Other slippers are already waiting for you in the toilet.

Each room has a bed with the freshest linen and a kimono in a small gray check. In the morning, the employee calls you and invites you to breakfast. Go down to the first floor, where the tables are already set. The servants are nowhere to be seen or heard. Breakfast is quite European: cheese, ham, scrambled eggs, buns with butter and jam, coffee with cream, tea, juices, vegetables and fruits, and much more.

After breakfast, the dishes are placed on the kitchen window, and you can go to the room to relax, and then go to the beach or to the city.

So we did. We spent one day in the city. The next morning we went to the ocean. The season was already over at that time. There was not a soul on the beach, it was a little stormy, the waves were very high. Gusts of wind ruffled her hair. The ocean splashed my face with salt spray. And the feeling of freedom, lightness, and spaciousness did not leave.

The water in the Pacific Ocean is slightly greenish. Even though it was already October, the sand and water were still warm enough. Perhaps sometimes there is no better time to relax than the off-season.


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