20" x 16" © virginia huber, 2004.

Airline passengers these days are packed in tightly. My seat mates suffered close quarters with my miserable cold. It was a long uneventful flight for most of our journey. Then we passengers flew into some very unfriendly skies as we tried to approach Narita Airport during the worst typhoon in Tokyo since the 1940s. In the end, the pilot refused to land in such dangerous conditions and our plane was diverted to Osaka where our carrier put two plane loads of passengers up for the night. We received vouchers to travel the rest of the way to Tokyo on the famous bullet train.



14" X 18" © virginia huber, 2004.

A shared experience is fertile ground for camaraderie. We were relieved and happy to be on the last leg of our journey - riding the fantastic bullet train on its way to the Saitama-Wisconsin Artist Exchange 2002. Conversations were warm and lively up and down the aisle of the smooth running train.



16" X 20" © virginia huber, 2004.

There was joy in the faces of our hosts when they spotted us getting off the train. They ran to us and gently eased the luggage from our hands. Cameras came out from pockets here and there to record this positive outcome - our safe arrival.


14" X 18" © virginia huber, 2004.

When we studied conversational Japanese, we focused on expressions of courtesy. Nevertheless, my worst fear was that I would say something stupid and/or inappropriate. As it happened, both of these appeared together in one event. I was asked to present a plaque to our Conference Co-ordinator, Michiko Yanagi [Owner of Four Seasons Art Gallery, Saitama] . I was also to say a few words. I did say words of gratitude. Unfortunately, my English words included ironies and paradoxes and paradoxical ironies and all I said couldn't be translated into Japanese. Three experienced translators took on the challenge -- one after the other -- after the other. What an embarrassment!


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