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20 December 2014
christmas card

This is my favourite Christmas card this year. It's from Eiko and her nice husband Takamasa. Eiko spent a lot of time with us in Tokyo and was so VERY kind. She took us all around the place, including to the Ghibli museum and the Edo Tokyo museum, and a tour of many Alice places in Tokyo.

Here is one of the Alice shops we saw with Eiko. It had just opened and was so popular that you needed to buy a ticket online to get in! It is an Alice fashion shop and so I probably wouldn't have found anything in there to suit me... but it was a very unusual doorway.... and here is a link in case you are interested in what it has.

rabbithole shop

I will write more soon.

Happy Christmas everyone!

09 December 2014
Carrollians in Japan

I'm still recovering from a long trip that included a wonderful three weeks in Japan. I went there to give a talk at the Lewis Carroll Society of Japan's AGM in TOkyo, and it was a great experience. I can't begin to say how kind all the Japanese Carrollians were that I met. Yoshi (who I will show in my next post) more or less masterminded the trip, and everyone was so friendly to both T and me. They made sure we lacked for nothing and any problems that we encountered (usually to do with reading, writing or finding out way around) were quickly sorted out. Eiko (at the centre in the picture above) also took us to all kinds of places we wanted to see, and on one occasion she achieved the difficult feat of finding an ATM we could draw yen from. We had never expected it to be so hard to draw cash, and were even more surprised when the ATM turned out to have a phone next to it on which you could call an operator to help if you had any problems using it! Thank goodness that Eiko understood it all!

As many people have said, Japan is very different indeed from the West. This is one of the things that makes it so fascinating to Westerners, and one of several reasons why we were not bored for a moment. It is also a very safe country, so we never felt threatened because of our ignorance; although most people did not speak English, everyone seemed to want things to run smoothly. Of course, some of the ways in which the country is different from the West can also take Westerners by surprise. We spent quite a lot of time sitting in one restaurant, for instance, before an English speaking person on the next table kindly pointed out that we should have ordered and paid for our meal from the machines just inside the door. We never gave these brightly coloured machines a glance when we entered, because it never occurred to us that they could be for ordering and paying, and of course we couldn't read the Japanese writing on them which said so. We were also similarly baffled in supermarkets, where food often didn't taste at all like we expected. On one occasion, for instance, I bought fish when I thought I was buying sweets. Well - it WAS stamped with "Hello Kitty"!


Here I am, listening to questions after the talk. Although the biography is due to be reissued and revised next year, I decided to talk instead about the way in which Lewis Carroll's bank account casts a different light on him, showing him to be a person quite unlike his popular image in many ways. I am starting to think that I should say more about that - because it's certainly true, and I'm probably the best person to say it. After the talk, I was glad to have many lovely responses from people who had heard it and said that it had changed their way of looking at Lewis Carroll.

I have literally thousands of photos of Japan and I am still digesting the experience, but I will write more posts, in particular about the amazing Alice restaurant we visited in Tokyo, courtesy of Yoshi, and some of the other good times. I'll also write on my other blog as soon as I can.