A Pond in the city

The City of Reykjavik

Imagine Peace Tower

I was in Iceland (IS) for over three weeks from the end of July, 2015. The reason why I decided to contribute my travelogue to WAN is that IS was more feminism-oriented than I had ever thought of. How feminism-oriented in this country is the focus of this article and I will omit guidebook-like information.

The flight bound for Keflavik International Airport took three and a half hours after departing from Helsinki airport. IS is located between Scandinavia and Greenland, and is a little bit larger than Hokkaido, with the population of 3,200,000. It takes about an hour by bus to the capital city Reykjavik. Why is the airport built quite far away from the capital city? Because there is not much flat land suitable for an airport.

IS is certainly a beautiful country seemingly larger than the metrological land scale, at least to my eyes. Reykjavik as well as other towns are also beautiful, or I might say, stylish, elegant and not aggressive.

I was shivering in a winter down jacket in the middle of summer. According to the previous internet weather information, it should not have been very cold due to the Mexican warm current, but it was hard to believe.

Nevertheless, there were sheep grazing where there was moss on the granite and some glasses. The afforestation (no original forest) was reflected on the blue sky and small wild flowers here or there were so lovely.

A few days after arrival, a friend of mine from Osaka and I took a bus trip, a round island tour of seven days. The group of fewer than 30 people was very international -- a young couple from Ukraine, two sisters around 40 years of age, one working as a gynecologist and one doing research on Alzheimer in the Eastern part of the US. We became good friends.

Whale watching under a cold shivering weather in the northern part of IS was quite disappointing as we saw just the top of a whale’s shoulder occasionally and they never showed that beautiful tail standing during our time.

We then went around the biggest glacier in Europe by a small boat. What a beautiful God’s hands' creation of the lump ices! Discussing one’s own country bloomed here or there during dinning and within the bus. Selgey-kun of Ukraine told us that his nation should never be occupied by Russia. Yes, yes very good, Selgey!! The mountains far away -- they weren't very high-- still had snow between the valleys and the green grassy plain in the distance appeased our eyes. Our bus flew on paved roads.

After my friend returned to Osaka, a nonchalant solitary journey began. The highlight of this trip was to see Imagine Peace Tower built by Yoko Ono after John Lennon’s death in uninhabited (but traditional) small islet, Vizey (I have no Icelandic letter "z").

The Vizey could be seen from the city harbor but took 30 minutes by a ferry to reach. To betray my imagination of “tower”, it was a large circle, twice the height of a human being, and 10 meters in diameter. John Lennon’s famous phrase “Imagine all people live in peace” in all different kinds of language were written on every locally produced tile. Indeed, it was a tower that wasn't a tower -- just “Imagine”!

Between October 7th of his birth and December 8th of his death, people make a human chain around the circle. The blue sharp light from the tower rises into the sky while people watch and pray for world peace. Some technical staff repaired the tower for the October events during my visit. I don’t know why Yoko built the tower in this islet but I guess she likes geothermal electric power here. I was moved to tears when I mourned for John’s death, thinking of the couple’s love relationship, and knelt in prayer against the reality of people still killing each other. How people have been murdered the innocent without any reason! The history is merciless!

View of Reykjavik from Vizey

Reykjavik's City Library

The second delightful discovery was the city library nearby my guest house. It was bright, open and spacious, and I could find chairs anywhere on each floor. At the entrance, as I saw art-like exhibitions I mindlessly asked, "Need the entrance fee?" They replied, “This is the city library.” And I sad, “Yes, of course, I came in knowing that...” What a funny conversation!

There were internet equipment settings at the window side on the 5th floor. My favorite place on the same floor was the other window side spot where there are sofas, comfortable chairs, from where I could look down the downtown street through the glazing wide windows. I often visited the place and would read the SAGA translated into English and looked at the drawing books of 18th century’s Reykjavik city, while sometimes dozing off. Sorry. After having learned the admission fee of the city warm water swimming pool was free for senior citizens, I went to swim and warmed myself up in the Jacuzzi bath afterwards. Oh, well, might I become a Reykjavik citizen?

The famous church on the top of the hill that can be seen from almost everywhere around the city hosts concerts during the 3 summer months. With a superb pipe organ, there were both free and charged concerts. This is another favorite place where I came in and out frequently. Fortunately, with enough light after our arrival, we happened to pop in a free noon concert there. How lucky we were!

In Japan、Bach’s music is usually played in pipe organ concerts but here modern composers' pieces and chorus were performed, which were quite innovative. The last summer session was The Creation by Handel’s oratorio 3 acts (quite expensive) that lasted almost 4 hours. At the same time they provided stories that explained the King of Solomon, the Old Testament and so on. It became a long day! (continued...)