Search This Blog

Monday, June 28

One Night In Tokyo

I like vampires.  I like Alice in Wonderland.  I like beer.  So what could be a better to celebrate my time here in Japan than a night in Tokyo with some dear friends at a few bars which are highly accommodating to these personalized likes?  When it's time for celebrating, there is nothing like a good theme bar to make it a fun night.

We had our sights set on two spots in the Ginza area of Tokyo, the Vampire Cafe and the Alice in Wonderland Cafe.  I spent my day trying to reach someone at both locations who spoke English and could make my reservations.  Of course, I had zero luck with this and only ended up annoying some people on the far end of the telephone line, but I was not to be deterred.  I don't often beg for help from Japanese friends, but in this case I did.  Of course, I only begged for help on one place, so that was all the help I got.  But it did land us with a 9:00 pm reservation with the vamps.

Setting out at 6:00, we just hoped that the earlier hour would get our small group in with Lewis Carroll's funny friends.  Armed with maps (in Japanese kanji), we got off at the Ginza stop and meandered the streets  looking for our first destination.  A few kind souls did stop and help us after I gave them my sad, pitifully lost face allowing us to finally take the elevator up to the tiny, well guarded entrance to the Wonderland Cafe.  Sadly, all the effort was for nothing.  A kind sir with his top hat, lapels and gold pocket watch could only share that they were completely full with reservations.  Bah.  Still, I was not to be turned away so quickly.  Perhaps I wouldn't be dining and drinking down the rabbit hole that evening, but I was damn well sure that I would at least take a stroll in this strange world.  Fortunately, our kind door rabbit was obliging, allowing us a quick peak around a room full of waitresses in blue and white pinafores, giant tea cups to sit in, and the many well-coiffed "Eat Me" treats that grace their strange menu.  But this would have to be all we saw before we crawled back out of the rabbit hole.  It's a shame too, because thanks to my English-to-Japanese translation book, I had learned to say "I take mushrooms occasionally."  It's not that I do take mushrooms other than the garden variety kind (and even those I am squeamish about), but if the book provides the line, then it surely wants someone to say it, right?  Ah well.

Back into the night air, we decided that in the available time prior to our later reservation, we would head back a block to the Sapporo Lion Beer Hall, which just so happens to be the oldest of such places in Japan, built in 1934.  That means it survived the World War II bombings in Tokyo.  This fact isn't so surprising once you step inside of this brick and mortar strong house and see the immense, Industrial-Gothic styled tiled columns strategically placed along the outskirts of the room.  To the far end from the entrance is the most massive marble bar these eyes have ever seen with a glass tile mosiac showing the scantily clad harvesting crops and writhing in ecstasy.  I read that in earlier, more modest days, these figures were covered with paper to preserve the patron's integrity.  In these modernly promiscuous days, no one even blinks at the sight.  I did take pictures of all this, but they are sadly trapped on my camera, which is refusing to communicate with the computer I am currently using.  Alas.  I will hopefully add them one day in the near future. 

The food here.  Ahh... so good.  Beer and pub food in all its glory.  Beef and potato croquettes and soft pretzels piled high on a stick are of my highest suggestion.  There are a few German beers, but we mostly stuck with the namesake of the Ebisu Lion.  Perhaps a beer hall was not the original theme plan of the night, but it proved to be more than satisfactory to our evening's activities.

As we did have one solid reservation, we paid our tab and headed back out into the ritzy streets of Ginza to find another bar surely hidden in some obscure corner of the neighborhood.  We had a map.  In Japanese.  And we tried placing it into some sort of respect to the other two locations we had previously found, but it took us only moments to realize that with varying scales, we were just going to have to wing it from the single map provided by the destination.  Once we figured out which tiny side street the map was showing, we just started walking.  Only once did we stop and a man pointed us onward in the direction we had been heading.  Either we were getting better at reading the maps or this place was easier to find, because it wasn't long before we were in the correct elevator.

When exiting the elevator, an evil laugh from the darkness made us all jump.  Turns out those cheesy Halloween props can still support their original purpose of the quick thrill.  Thick velvet drapes line all the walls, obscuring whatever was beyond the entryway and, later, whatever was occurring in those private booths.  The floor glowed with red platelets until you pass into a main room where tables rest directly over coffins long coated in dripped red wax from the candelabras placed upon them.  Skulls and spiderwebs graced corners here and there.  Little Lolita waitresses in black and white french maid outfits scurried to the several hidden tables while Baroque music made the vibe a little more classic than cheesy Goth.  (The one picture here is courtesy of dear friend and fellow vampire bar lover Davida, who, unlike myself, can make her camera and computer talk to each other.)

My purpose was solely to drink some blood.  Not the real stuff, mind you, because EW.  But that menu was sure to have something that looked enough like it to satisfy my sick curiousity.  The care is mainly a ritzy eating establishment, but since we had already partaken in several courses prior, we stuck with ordering dessert.  A chocolate creme cake with bat wings and red glazing spilled around it was perfectly adorable while the chocolate and berry dessert pizza was so-so good to me.  The drinks were still where my mind was at.

First drink.  Some creamy type juice, made lychee, mixed with a lot of I-don't-know and a shot of a thick red berry juice served on the side which you poured in.  It was tasty.  Especially for not knowing what we were drinking.  For the steep cost, there was surely alcohol in it, but our taste buds must be withered from our years of adult beverages because we didn't taste or feel a thing.  For the second shot, we went with a clearer red cocktail with lots of crushed ice and tiny rose petals on top.  Again, we have no idea what we were drinking.  I guess there was alcohol.  Again, the price would make one assume.  But the flavor was so beyond odd for a drink, that it took me a bit to finish it off.  If I had to nail down a flavor, I would say it was like drinking your grandma's antique rose perfume water.  I guess vampire are big on the luxe and the roses, but I'm doubting any self-respecting vampire would drink the red beauties.  Of course, I made a further mistake by ordering the thick red-looking shot on the side... something that turned out to be like an intense bloody mary.  Please do me a favor and never mix your roses and tomatoes together.  It's just wrong.  And your stomach will fault you for your stupidity at some point in the hours later.

While it wasn't one of the Tokyo theme bars I totally fell in love with, I'm always up for enjoying some strangeness.  If this hadn't been a goodbye to Japan night, I would totally go back again.  Perhaps many years in the future.

Neither me nor my friends relish the idea of sleeping in the train station for the night, so we made sure to catch the next-to-last train back to Zushi.  You always plan for the next-to-last which gives you that tiny cushion in case you miss it.  Many a business man has made the mistake of thinking they can make it from the bar to that last train and, after missing it, end up lying in wait for the 5:00 am train on the cold, dirty tile of some subway station using their briefcase as a makeshift pillow.  I hated to think of my pretty Coach bag being put into such an incommodious position.  Especially when my Serta Memory Foam pillow waited at home for me.  Damn, I'm getting old.

Friday, June 25

Combing Hayama Beach

By far one of my favorite goofing off activities in Japan has come to be beach combing on Hayama Beach.  This is a pretty recent pastime too.  It all started a few months ago when I finally got a chance to see some jewelry art that a friend here creates.  She had told me years ago that she worked with sea pottery and I think I did a general head nodding as if I had a clue as to what she was referring.  I didn't.  Not until I saw her beautiful display.  For someone that is fascinated with blue and white Japanese pottery (I have quite the collection) as well as by those perfectly rounded and buffed pieces of blue and green sea glass you are occasionally lucky enough to find on any foreign shore, the discovery of a sea pottery in the same earthy, rubbed state is enough of a combination to make my head perpetually swoon. 

Add this love of mine with my child's love to constantly be out of doors and you have a natural winner of a day.

It's not that I taught him to pick out these pottery pieces in the midst of thousands of bits of shells and rocks, but he, in all his toddler eagerness to help, is all too happy to sort through the jumble under our feet.  He uncannily knows what I am looking for.  While he may not get me the prized blue and white pottery pieces that I look for, he does pick out quite a handful of gorgeous all-white pieces for me to sort through.  I'm not saying my kid is a genius, but for someone that goes into a hourly state of near ecstasy when he finds a good rock, I'd say this is an impressive eye for sorting good shards from the rest of the litter for a wee one.

The legend of this pottery, found everywhere and everyday on Hayama Beach and parts of Kamakura beaches, is that sea vessels long ago ship wrecked in the area found their pottery sunken with them. The pieces have taken hundred of years rolling along the depths until they have washed up, perfectly weather, on today's sandy shores.  It's a good story, but I'm not sure I am a believer.  I'm thinking maybe the housewives who accidentally break a piece of china here or there, take it down to the cliffs and toss it over just so they don't have to do yet another sorted bag in that week's recyclables.  I kid.  Kind of.  Whatever the reason for its appearance, I'm just so very glad it does.  And so is Peanut.

Thursday, June 24

Misty Mornings Spent at Kamakurayama's Rai Tei

In the essence of our continuing goodbyes, our neighbor planned one more magnificent outing for us to share together.  Hidden in the mountains around the city of Kamakura is a place called Rai Tei.  On this misty, warm June morning, it was the perfect place for spending time reflecting on Japan and the many friendships we have made here.
A little history of this place with the majestic views of  Kamakurayama begins with its establishment in 1928 as part of a Japanese resort cottage subdivision, but in 1969, the owner converted it into a soba (buckwheat noodle) and traditional cuisine restaurant.  The main building was actually constructed during the Edo period and relocated to its current site as a residence for a wealthy farming family from nearby Yokohama city.  The entrance gate, San-mon, was erected in 1642 formerly at the Juen-zan Koshou-ji Temple in the Kamakura area, but when the temple was relocated to a different prefecture in 1931, the gate was erected here at Rai Tei.  

While the building and gate are extraordinary, it is the gardens here that I am in awe of.  A circuit-style garden covering approximately 50,000 square meters has views of everything from Buddha sculptures to 5-storied pagodas to nature in all its incredible glory.  On a clear day, Mt. Fuji will even make her surreal appearance over the mountains' treetops.  Of course, our drizzly day would not allow for that kind of long-distance view, but I was contented enough by simply basking in the cool breezes of the bamboo groves.  

Our friend held the hand of Kimono Peanut as he happily, despite it being somewhat laborious for his shorter legs, climbed up and down the moss-covered rock paths.  He remained his usual cheerful self, that lives to be out-of-doors every moment he possibly can, and waved hello to every single passerby, even when one small group forced him so far off the narrow pathway that he slide down a steep, wet incline into the tall grasses and mud of forest around him.  Not a tear did he shed, as he dusted off and continued dragging our friend onward.

Also eager to try the food after our little hike, we found a table next to the window where we could peer out into garden and beyond into the misty mountains.  We took off our shoes and sat down on the tatami mat in front of the low table, a table which turned out to be several hundred years old.  While it has surely stood the test of time, I was extra cautious to keep my wee boy, known for his awesome pounding skills, a bit further back from it than I normally would.  Soba is generally one of KP's favorite meals, but sadly on this day, he couldn't sit still long enough to eat for the life of him.  We each had a plate of soba and tempura, but I am sorry to report that I didn't spend much time tasting what I was eating and instead wolfed it down in my best effort possible to get KP out of there before the neighboring tables or the establishment threw him out.  He was all too thrilled when we put his shoes back on him and left him run out the door and back into the gardens.  If it hadn't been for a heavier rain coming down, we would have tried to spend more time meandering, but as it was, we decided to head back before we were all drenched.

As we headed home, all I could think about was how much I wish we could have visitors, particularly my mom, in Japan one more time.  Because this is the kind of place that my Japanese dreams are made of.

Friday, June 11

Roving About Enoshima Island

If there is one thing the guide books miss telling you about Enoshima Island, it is that it is one helluva hike.  This is the exact sticking point that, even if I had known, I wouldn't have shared with Kimono Hubby.  Since the arrival of the Peanut and his ever growing size, he tends to avoid all day long outings in Japan that require him to carry said heavy burden up and down numerous flights of stairs.  He still likes to throw the Korean infiltration tunnel in my face whenever their is a discussion about hiking with KP at our sides.  But I wanted to visit all of Enoshima Island instead of the glimpses along the edge that I had previously partaken.

So a-hiking we all went. 

Starting off the stroller managed to go from the parking lot, up the tiny stretch of the main street and was sadly left behind at the foot of (God bless!) an escalator!  It took us up the fist stretch where we strolled around a temple and watched people do figure eights in and out of a circle.  I'm sure it has something to do with luck or health, but I didn't look it up.  We took in the view and then headed for the next stretch of escalators.  There were to be two more and we would be to the lighthouse on the top of the island.

Arriving at this level, we saw the botanical gardens' entrance in front of us, but being more interested in the lighthouse that looked as if it was somewhere in the distance behind the garden, we passed by it.  Only then did we discover that the next stairwell went down, down, down.  And then around.  Great vistas surrounding us, but on this hot and humid June day, we didn't quite care to stop and look at this point except perhaps to take a moment and catch our breath.  Our mission was solidly the lighthouse and the rest be damned.

After several more flights up and down, we realized that the lighthouse was either a figment of our imagination or just very far behind us.  We could only assume that the entrance had to have been inside the botanical garden.  Looking back at all those stairs up and down, up and down behind us though, there was no way we were going back.  Onward, we went.

But just where were we going?  We had consulted the map, but honestly not very closely.  If we had, we might have seen that there really was no wrap-around pathway on the island.  Those stairs up and down that we had been climbing, we would be climbing them again in our near future.

Where we did eventually end up was the very far end of the island.  I know the island is only 4 kilometers long, but when it is up and down and all around, that adds a whole lot of clicks to the total calculation.

The sad part of the walk on this particular day is that the big draw for dragging your cookies the whole way over to this far side of the island is to get this majestic, uninhibited view of Mt. Fuji.  Guess what?  Like 80% of the other days in Japan, it was too hazy to see Fuji-san.  For as large as the mountain is, she really does know how to hide herself away from the public eye.

As if all this tramping and climbing hadn't reminded KH enough about that tough day back in Korea, we came to the very end of the pathway which lead into two ancient caves.  Two caves of which you needed to bend down very low and not burn your dangling hair or the babe in your arms with the only source of light you had, a tiny candle, which was handed to you on the way in.  When it got to the hardcore ducking, KH and KP stayed behind while I continued deeper into the mountain.  I will add here that the signs about earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis as you walk along the rocky outposts in this area did make me a little more nervous as I was deep inside of this cavernous mountain.  A tip: If you take the hike in yourself, try not to think about this fact whilst meandering in the mountains deep, dark core.

Once out of the caves, we consulted with another map and began to come to grips with the fact that the reverse walk was going to be just as bad.  Our footwear choice for the day, flip-flops, was also bemoaned as we began the trek back.  And yet again, my breakfast of champions, my daily Diet Coke, was not enough to get me through this.  We aimed to, at least, get ourselves past the entrance to the botanical gardens before pausing for lunch, but at the peaks of one of the stairwells, Kimono Peanut began to dilly dally his walking efforts and perform his tired stance (the one where he stands on his head), we realized we would have to stop sooner rather than later.  The choices along this route were excellent had it been just the two adults.  Lost of fresh seafood shown in the ever-present plastic displays, but this would not work for a ever-more-picky toddler.  When we passed a soba and tempura place that overlooked the ocean, we jumped at the chance to get our kid some plain noodles.  It also helped that the place was not yet crowded so if he did have a meltdown, there were a whole lot less witnesses to it.  Meltdown, he did.  Eat, he did not.  The quickly eaten meal provided just enough energy for us to carry KP up and down and around those last stairwells.  Remember the escalators coming up?  How helpful they were in spurts?  Well, there ain't nothing like that going down except for the volition in your own two legs.  When we finally got back to the stroller, the sun, the heat and the sweat was quickly ending our day.  We never did stop at the lighthouse on the way back.  The first issue was that we still weren't sure how to get into it, but the second was that it looked like it was another 500 stairs to the top, and there wasn't a chance in hell I was going to convince either of the boys with me that we should climb to the top just to take in the view.

We had also read that one of the shrines on the island held one of the few naked sculptures in Japan.  She apparently is a shrine for praying for success in entertainment and many actors and actresses visit her for help in their own fame and fortune.  We visited each of the shrines, but I somehow missed her too.  Oh well.  I didn't plan on being in the entertainment industry anyway.  I'm not sure that either KH or KP would agree, but just the vast island roving we had done was enough to satisfy me.

Shopping in the bottom, main street area looked like fun, but with only a few weeks left here, I am realizing that there is really nothing left in which I really want to buy.  We snacked on what looked like some unassuming potato balls and rice cakes, only to realize that the island's specialty of those tiny white/silver fish with the big black eye on the end were the main ingredient.  You couldn't taste them really, but just seeing that black eye floating in the middle of the creamy cheese substance in the middle of the ball was a bit too much for me.  The flat cake-like thing was surprisingly even worse, more so because of the gummy texture than even teh black eyes staring up at you.

Also cooking in front of several locations were chefs hard at work on conch, clams, oysters and squid on the grill.  Kimono Hubby had learned his lesson on the conch a few weeks ago at the Marine Park, but he felt that the clams might be a safe bet.  He was wrong.  Again, he bought two thinking I would be having one, again after I had already told him I was set on getting apple-mango ice cream, so he ended up eating both big, chewy clams.  As I watched him, I swirled down an Enoshima beer, the perfect top off on this hot day.  Insisting that he had to remove the clam taste from his mouth, KH backtracked to get himself an ice cream cone.

We meandered the outskirts of the island a bit more, gazing out at the sea to watch the myriad of boats on the horizon.  A line of cars had snaked itself onto the island and now sat in the hot sun waiting for one of the limited parking spots to open up.  They probably sat there with the typical serene Japanese patience, but I felt guilty watching the line never grow any shorter.  On top of that, it was way past someone's naptime and he was showing signs of physical wear, so we headed back to our car and made our way off the island.  Of course, driving down Route 134 on a summer day is a test in patience all by itself.  It took us over an hour to get back, a second reminder of how glad we were that we headed to the island super early that morning.

And let me tell you, those guide books won't tell you about that traffic either.

Thursday, June 10

Japanese Peculiarities #11

If there is one thing I know about, it is junk mail.  I truly say this in the most loving way.  Prior to my charades in Japan, I spent many, many hours, days and years creating it.  Of course, the much nicer name is 'direct mail'.

This isn't one of those careers that you choose.  It chooses you.  If you are lucky enough, like I was, you fall in love with it.  No joke, but I used to look forward to checking my mailbox to see if there were any cool letters and ideas in there that I could replicate, or better, one-up, for my clients. As you can imagine, this made me extremely curious to see what would show up in my Japanese mailbox.  Would I be able to use any of these new finds from my foreign box and translate them into something grand in that past/future career? 

There answer has been a resounding no.  I have spent four years checking through the stacks in my mailbox here and there ain't nothing half as cool as what we created at my old agency.

First of all, unless it is a bill or a statement, they rarely bother with envelopes.  This makes perfect sense in a culture where sorting trash for its particular recycling day is a huge issue.  Why give more to throw out when the goal is ultimately less to throw out.  The problem is that one of the coolest parts was the envelope.  There is so much that can be done with an envelope!  I know I am sounding like a huge dork here, but I am dead serious.  In direct mail, if the envelope isn't cool and appealing for the appointed audience, then you fail from the get go.  They never open it and you never get your message across.  In Japan, with no envelope and a writing of which the average American like myself can't read, you are left with nothing more than a chaotic-looking flier.  On top of that, they are rarely even folded like a real letter is.  Although, I won't complain on this note as I would just have to unfold them to put them into the tied recycling pile.

And that below is exactly what I pull out of my mailbox on a daily basis.  A big old mess that I leaf through and then throw directly into the recycling bin.  I dare one of my previous coworkers to make something out of this week's worth display.  Please do let me know if you find something... and I promise to steal the idea from you too.

Wednesday, June 9

Last Ikebana Class

I haven't talked much about any Ikebana that I have created lately mostly because I have only been creating it at home.  Without proper sensei supervision, I don't want to call it Ikebana and show it to the world.  Lately, the art form has been strictly something for me to enjoy, in my own, limited spare time, more than trying to master the craft. 

However, Ikebana is one of the things in my life here in Japan that had to give a proper goodbye to.  Last week, I emailed the best English speaker in the class and asked her if I could stop by for a visit.  Not wanting to disturb the class and knowing that I would have to bring Kimono Peanut with me as class is on a Friday afternoon and all the other supervising grown-ups are working, I promised I would keep it short, all the while keeping up a quiet hope that they would ask me to stay.  Of course, they did.  The Japanese are overwhelming welcoming, if you ask me.  The responding email was filled with friendly insistence that I stay for a final class with the Peanut and then join everyone for a farewell luncheon.  

I was so excited about the day that I ended up being forty-five minutes early.  Anyone who knows me, knows that early is not my thing.  I was nervous about having my curious toddler in a room full of pretty flowers to rip apart, but he was amazingly well behaved after only one small meltdown, when I insisted we stop playing outside and come in for class.  Sensei took his meltdown as an opportunity to take him out herself and downstairs to the flower shop below where she purchases the flowers and show him off a little.  It warms my heart to see my friends here, these friends that I may not always be able to communicate properly to, but they always show how much loving kindness they have in their hearts for not only me, but my own.  Once they were done their little stroll, KP was then perfectly content to play with his cars and a new toy one of my fellow students had brought for him.  I was able to complete my arrangement in no time, even while keeping a keen eye on the whereabouts of my busy, little man.

Takenouchi-sensei just has that magic touch.  She liked what I did, but with a few tiny adjustments and she seemed to bring the whole thing completely alive, as if you happened upon it on a walk by a quiet lake.  This is exactly what the Kozan school is about and it is no wonder she is a master of it.  She does this with everyone's work, even when I think they are so amazingly accomplished that they couldn't possibly be improved upon.  I have learned so very much from her.
Once class wrapped up, we gathered our wrapped flowers to recreate our work at home and then headed over to Kamakura Pasta.  I've been there only once before, long before there was a KP, and I do love it.  What I didn't know was that it had a glass room on the far end filled with toys so that adults can eat and kids can play.  Just another way that my friends and classmates are so thoughtful, to chose a restaurant like thoroughly with the two of us in mind. 

Ahead of time, I had prepared a little speech in the best Japanese I could muster.  It may not have been perfect, but I know that each and every one of my friends understood.  The tears (mine, but they quickly joined in) came in only my second sentence, but I continued so that they would know how much I value what they have taught me, not just about flowers, but about bonding with those from an entirely different culture, who speak an entirely different language.  It has been one of the most wonderful experiences in my time here.  It wasn't just about the art form, as it was when I first started studying.  In the end, it is much more about the value of true and treasured friendship.  I am thoroughly grateful for every moment I spent with them.

Tuesday, June 8

The Goddess of Mercy

The "Goddess of Mercy of the White Robe" stands prominently on a mountain in Ofuna.  You can't miss her from anywhere in the area, whether you are on a train or on foot.  And yet, if my favorite exploring friend had not been with me when KP and I went to seek her out, I'm not sure if I would have figured out how to get to her.

The path at the foot of the mountain stands hidden behind an unsuspecting neighborhood.  At the entrance is merely a small wooden sign with some Japanese writing on it, of which I obviously cannot read.  My friend said it took her and her mother several laps around the area to figure it out.  And then the climb begins.  Oh my, the climb.  It is steep.  Viciously steep.  And pushing a 30 pound Peanut and his gear up it, well let's just say it wasn't easy.  As we hiked and forced the stroller up the bumpy path, I was grateful that my friend had insisted we pause for lunch prior to the jaunt up.  If we hadn't stuffed ourselves at Goemon (delicious Japanese pasta place, if you are interested), then I am pretty sure my breakfast of Diet Coke would not have been enough for the march.  I surely would have collapsed halfway up and the Peanut would have rolled right over me and back on down the hill.

When we arrived at the top, I was thrilled to see this beautiful statue up close and in person.  Kimono Peanut just liked running up, down and around the circular pathway that surrounds her.

Why is this place so important?  A little history lesson:  The Goddess at Ofuna Kannon-ji was instituted "in general defense of the Fatherland" by Kentaro Kaneko and traditional nationalist Mitsuru Touyama who had been a part in the drafting of the Imperial Constitution (according to info provided at the site).  Building began in 1929, with the Goddess meant to be praying for world peace, but in 1934 when only the outline was completed, war broke out in the Pacific and the place was left to nature's devices for the next twenty years.  In 1954, a newly created society took up the work on construction and completed the project in 1960. 

The site contains stones from ground zero in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, commemorating the souls of those who died in the tragedy of those atomic attacks.  Most visitors to the temple do so regularly for spiritual purposes, but it is said that foreigners seek her out for comfort during their strives with homesickness.  She is meant to carry prayers for peace for those of her home country and those who only call Japan their home for a set amount of time.

I can understand this purpose.  The mountain she sits on is serene, tranquil and offers refuge from the busy city that lies at her feet.  I can see praying for personal peace, as well as peace for the world at large in this obsequious setting.  But I can also hope that it doesn't take a statue to remind us to all to do the same no matter where we are standing.