Wednesday, October 13, 2010

14 October 2010 Japanese village

If you are a facebook friend, you've already seen the pictures.  The Japanese village is a true gem in Ayutthaya.  Located southeast of the island, it is directly across the Chao Phraya from the old Portuguese settlement.  The portuguese settlement, as I think I mentioned before, is basically just a "ruin".  It's a shame, because they have the foundations and have identified several of the chambers.  They should just restore it and make it a tourist attraction.  Sort of "Lisbonland" in Ayutthaya.
Well, the Japanese did just that, in a way.  There are, as far as I could ascertain, absolutely no original structures of the Japanese presence, which goes back 400 years.  Basically they built a small but fascinating museum (featuring a great 10 minute documentary on the history of Ayutthaya, in Japanese and Thai with subtitles in the other language and in English).  The museum has a reproduction of the most famous mural-map of Ayutthaya, of which the original hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I believe.  Plus there are a few artifacts.  There is a small research library with books and computers.  Then there is a Japanese Zen-style garden.  And finally, the obligatory gift shop, but with a twist.  The owner is Japanese (though he has a couple of thai employees), he speaks some Thai and English.  They accept payment in Japanese Yen, i.e. this is a definite tourist destination for Japanese in Thailand.  All the signs and labels are in Japanese, some are in Thai, and none in any Roman alphabet based language.    The stuff they sell is the typical tourist stuff you can find anywhere in Thailand, and they don't even shaft you particularly on the prices.  Using my rudimntary Japanese, I asked the owner if it was okay to pay in Thai Baht.  He thought that was quite humorous, and halfway through his laugh he realized I'd asked him in Japanese.  That led to a short but pleasant conversation in Japanese (my conversations in Japanese have to be VERY short), while the store was empty.  Five minutes later a tour bus emptied a load of Japanese tourists into the store.
Anyway, I highly recommend the Japanese village as a tourist destination.  You need about a hour or so for it, and can combine it with a couple of other nearby attractions in Ayutthaya (of which there is no end).

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