|From Taiwan we flew Cathay Pacific to Japan in 3hrs, landing at Osaka which is the 2nd largest city in Japan, with many wide canals and highways built over buildings from which steam from air-conditioning rose at intervals. There was much 4-wheel traffic; before buying a car in Japan, one has to prove rental of a parking space. All trucks have 3 green lights – 1 lit denotes speed of 40kph, 2 = 60kph and 3 = 80kph. Speed limits are adhered to strictly (not that one could speed, with all the traffic!) We finally arrived at the luxurious 30 storey Royal Hotel. The lounge was absolutely beautiful, with a stream running through it, lights like clouds on the ceiling and a big picture-window facing small waterfalls surrounded by greenery directly outside. Toothbrushes, slops and kimonos were ready waiting for us and the beds had been turned back, as it was 11p.m. before we arrived.
The following morning we met our tour guide Dorothy. She was 83 years old and had been Pearl Buck’s secretary for 15 years before taking a job as technical camera assistant and interpreter for films. An extremely knowledgeable and energetic lady, who carried a large multicoloured umbrella at all times so that her flock would be able to gather around her with the minimum of fuss amid all the crowds, who were mainly Japanese tourists (!)
In warm, light rain we visited the 5-storied Osaka Castle. This dates from 1500 odd A.D. and was reinforced with concrete in 1931. There is a moat, and the wall around the castle is built with very large stones, using no cement. The interior museum illustrates Osaka history in pictures, armour, excavated pots, etc.
Back onto the bus for the drive through built up areas to Takarazuka (pronounced Takarazka), which lies between Osaka and Kobe. At the all-girl Takarazuka theatre college the students learned singing, dancing and acting. They were divided into four groups – one local, one in Tokyo and two practicing. They performed 8 shows per year, with a break of 10 days between each show. And there could be 120 girls on stage at one time.
We arrived at the Takarazuka theatre at 11 o’clock and spent time in the huge foyer, which was divided into two sections; the one had restaurants on one side and bakeries on the other, where we watched men making, baking and boxing small cakes which smelt like waffles – and tasted awful (!) The second section consisted of shops.
The show began at 1 p.m. We sat through 1½ hrs of Japanese “nō ” drama depicting “old Japan”. The stage effects were excellent – but yours truly nearly went to sleep. After a 30 minute interval, there was a 1 hr Broadway musical revue –WOW !! everyone woke up!
The singing, dancing, costumes, lighting, slickness were outstandingly superb. We came out at 4 p.m. and boarded the bus again, travelling for an hour once again through built up areas to Kyoto, where we stayed at the grand Grand Hotel.