“Do you know Fukushima? It’s my town,” the girl next to me said to the man sitting on her right. I was sitting on her left and dozing on a plane to Vancouver while she was talking to the man. When she mentioned the place, I sensed the man tensed for a moment and I opened my eyes. Then he managed a word, “Oh, my gosh…” and I was in the conversation before I knew it.
She was a high school junior in Japan, but left school to study English in Canada. According to her, she was going to stay with a family and go to high school in West Vancouver for two years. I had never thought of leaving Japan alone when I was her age. Young girls today are brave. However, she said she was feeling nervous about her new life. That was why the man from Whistler and I encouraged her while flying. I hope everything is going well for her.
I traveled Vancouver by myself from April 22 to 26, when it was right before the high season. In fact, the spring in Vancouver is the rainy season. Nevertheless, it was sunny when I arrived at the airport. I was so lucky. I stayed at Barclay Hotel at Robson Street. It was an oldish building without elevators built in 1950. My room had neither hair-dryer, electric kettle, nor fridge. But the hotel was renovated in 2008 before the Olympics in 2010. So, my room was clean and had a bath tub and free wifi! Actually, I didn’t need a hair-dryer, an electric kettle, or a fridge because the hotel is located in a very convenient place where there are some convenience stores, cafes, restaurants, and grocery stores within a few-minute walk and my hair is short. (You can borrow a dryer and a kettle at the information desk.)
I arrived at the hotel around 11:00 a.m. I couldn’t check in yet, but the counter clerk in the hotel was very kind and offered to accelerate their check-in time to noon from 2 p.m. for me. So, I left my backpack at the hotel and went for a stroll in town. There is a Japanese style convenience store a few-minute walk from the hotel. It is Konbiniya Japan Centre at Robson Street. I dropped by the shop though I was not going to buy any Japanese things. You know, I had just arrived there from Japan. Interestingly the store had many Japanese products, especially glico’s merchandise. I did not see any Japanese students there because they had to be at school that time, but many of them might come to the shop for Japanese snacks and comics after school or on weekends.
My first destination was Burrard Station, which is the nearest Skytrain station from the hotel. It was about a 12-minute walk. I was going to buy an electric fare pass called Compass there because it would be convenient to use the public transportation in Vancouver. But I couldn’t find any places to buy the card at the station. The vending machines just sold usual tickets and there was no ticket window nearby. Then a member of staff happened to appear by chance and started taking out money from the machines . So I asked him where I could buy one. But he replied, “Not yet,” shaking his head. The system of using electric fare passes had just begun this year and had not spread throughout the city yet…
There is a big building of the Royal Bank of Canada called Royal Centre near the station. I gave up getting the IC card and headed to the bank. It has one of the largest First Nations’ artworks on its walls. A man came to me with a smile when I stepped into its mezzanine floor because I didn’t look like one of their customers obviously.
“May I help you?”
“Um… I’ve come here just for looking at those walls…” I said that and looked up at the walls before me.
“Oh, I see…” He also looked up.
There were huge artworks called “‘Ksan Mural” in front of us. They are nine 30m-long and 2.5m-high wooden panels carved and painted by hand. They were created by five Native Indian carvers in 1972. The main work depicts their legends of Weget, or Man-Raven. The bold designs of the giant aboriginal artworks were breathtaking.
“Can I take some photos?”
“Yes, I think so…but…no?” he said so and saw something. Actually, he was looking at someone, who was shaking her head. The woman said apologetically, “I’m sorry, but for security reasons…” and gave me a leaflet. So, I cannot show you the great works here. Why don’t you drop by the bank to look at the hidden artworks if you visit Vancouver? They are impressive and worth seeing.
Japanese Version is HERE.