|I made a short travel to London with my son hand in hand in summer :1993.
At the time, Japan's economy had already begun declining, but the Yen still kept predominance over foreign currency, so Japanese people took advantage of travelling abroad at inexpensive cost. Narita airport was jammed with people heading for abroad every holiday.
We got to Heathrow airport via Hong Kong after 17 hours flight, and checked in a hotel named Swallow International in south Kensington area.
The first impression I got about London was that the temperature was moderate and the streets were neat. There were people dressed in Burberry coats in summer evening. Buildings were standing along the road making sort of a harmony. I compared these phenomena to those in Japan, and couldn't help recognising the difference of culture between the two nations.
We stayed in London for 6 days, and walked about here and there around central London or made a short trip to Oxford. At everywhere we visited I was impressed by the architecture, the composition of the streets and the appearances of people walking there. I'd rather express them in a phrase "the atmosphere of the city".
The other impressions I got from London life were as following.
Firstly, it seemed to me that Londoners were indifferent to the meals they had every day. They seemed to be satisfied with simply cooked meals, bread and butter with some drinks for breakfast, roast beef and boiled potatoes for supper. They ate these same foods almost every day. To a Japanese as I, it was never bearable
Secondly, the transportation system was very well made. The number of underground lines were much more than in Tokyo. The buses and taxis were uniquely designed and usuful.
Thirdly, the traffic rule were very humane. In Tokyo, the traffic signals were set mainly to make car traffic smoother, the benefit of passengers was set aside. In London, the benefit of passengers was given priority over the car traffic.
Fourthly, Londoners were deep lovers of musical plays. There were many theatres in central London, especially along Shaftsburry avenue and around West End area. All of them were full of spectaters every night. Actors and actresses not only played their roles but also made a great fuss altogether with spectators. That made me compare them to the fuss in the strip theatres in Japan.
There were many other impressions I got from the London life, but my readers will get enough with them.
Now, I have a friend much younger than me. Lately, he made a travel to London with his daughter, 11 years old. When we travelled to London, my son, Takaki, was 11 years old, too. I was interested in what way they enjoyed the travel.
He showed me the photos and drawings of London he himself had taken or drawn. The townscapes shown on them looked not so different from those we saw in our London travel. I said to him that London was a city which included in it the never changing part.
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