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Live Your List - Blooming Beautiful!

From a young age, this Lake Macquarie yoga teacher had been fascinated by Japan and its culture. However, she never imagined it would be so enchanting. With cherry blossom time high on her ‘must-sees’, Celeste Franklin and her husband Andrew left for a 21-day trip in early April with high-hopes of seeing the famous Sakura season. In the back of their minds was the niggling worry that they might not see this spectacle as the previous years season had finished by March 28.

Landing in Tokyo, they planned to head to the Imperial Palace, as the nearby gardens were known as a viewing site, but even as they left the hotel the street was an avenue of blooms – a pink wonderland.

“I had waited a long time to see them, and then there they were – in abundance and so beautiful. It was only the start of our cherry-blossom journey. In Hakone, the blooms were coming out, then in Kanazawa, they were falling – showering the ground,” said Celeste.

Celeste’s interest in Japanese culture was influenced by her father’s love of the art, in particular, Hokusai’s The Great Wave [off Kanagawa], which hung in the family home. Celeste followed his captivation and decided she would go to Japan.

“As I read more about it, my list grew to include a tea ceremony, Mt Fuji and more recently a Tokyo owl café. All things, I saw or did on this trip.”

“I love owls, and the café was quirky – to sit in such a quiet place in the middle of a city that is so busy.”

During her visit, Celeste discovered the owls were rescue birds; they were tethered though able to fly and free to be with people or perch quietly. She was instructed to be quiet, move slowly and treat the birds gently.

“We stayed about 20 minutes. It was relaxing. Each owl had its own personality. Some flew around me, while others sat with or on me. The little ones cooed and snuggled up to me – a bit like cats. It was gorgeous.”

On the more traditional side, Celeste went to a Tea Ceremony; in fact, she enjoyed the ritual so much that she ended up going to three! Each ceremony included the preparation process and ritual steps, which represent purity, tranquillity and harmony. The first she stumbled upon in Hakone, the other two were in Kyoto.

“I liked them all though they were very different experiences. The first in a temple was very Zen; the next one was entertaining as it was a pre-theatre addition to a Geisha Show and the third, a workshop about the ceremony’s essence, was experiential.”

Mount Fuji was another highlight, mainly due to how it showed up and several times unexpectedly. Her first sighting was from the Park Hyatt Hotel on her way to the rooftop New York Bar, made famous by the movie Lost in Translation. On one of the levels, a lady in traditional dress motioned for Celeste to look out the window. She saw the sun setting on Mount Fuji.

In Hakone, known for its views of the iconic mountain, she was not as lucky, as clouds obscured the views, but on the bullet train, she saw it clearly. Then, of course, when flying out of Tokyo, she had a bird’s eye view.

“It was a gift and very special. We flew very close and saw the crater. It was a wonderful farewell to our trip.”

“Japan was a big thing to me. I was born quite unwell and lucky to be alive. So, I make the most out of what I can, and I have done a lot.”

Ticked off ‘the list’ already includes visiting the UK, becoming an aromatherapist then yoga teacher, kundalini training and living by the beach.

“I would like to see Greece, Uluru (dinner under the stars, sunset, sunrise), Darwin sunset, travel more spiritually to deepen my practise. Though I’m happy to wait for places to come up naturally.”

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