I spent New Year’s in Japan. It felt right to get the hell out of here. Start a new year a 12 hour plane ride away. So we did. The three kiddos and I.
Japan was more than I ever dreamed it could be. It was magical.
What I wrote on our last day there:
1. Japanese culture has some issues (sexism, workaholics, mental health issues/suicide, they’ve got your usual dose of corporate corruption, and judging by the anime porn it seems they need to get a real bf/gf)…BUT…there are so many amazing things about the people here. They are kind, courteous, smart, elegant, classy, hard working, organized, innovative, creative, and so many other wonderful attributes.
2. The best thing about the Japanese people that inspires me: their resilience. Through atomic bombs, war, earthquakes, tsunamis, whatever, they persevere, rebuild, and move on. They aren’t quitters. I feel it everywhere, woven throughout the fabric of their civilization. It’s exactly what I needed to start my new year.
The shikata ga nai is strong. “It cannot be helped.” 98% of the population is Buddhist, which comes out in their reactions to life, their attitudes, and dispositions. I need to be more mindful of my own thoughts.
3. I love the Buddhism. There are temples and shrines everywhere. I love the incense and chanting and tradition.
4. Super kid-friendly. Nobody glared at me or made me feel stressed when Peter cried in public. Facilities were kid-friendly (changing tables, stroller friendly, etc.) The only downside was that playgrounds are scarce around here.
5. Culturally rich. This is an ancient civilization and us westerners are barely exposed to it. I feel like I stumbled upon a rare gem. I’m kind of bored of western culture. We need to learn about different ways of living. We are ants in this big, interesting world. There is so much to learn and experience.
6. Simplicity and purpose. Everything is so thoughtful down to the warm toilet seats to the pretty packaging of the most mundane purchases. But it’s simple too. Not excessive. If you buy snacks, they are individually packaged with just the right amount.
7. They are healthy and fit. Obesity is not the norm here. It makes you wonder…WTF are we eating in the USA?! The food has been great .
I have hummed and haar’d.. if that’s how you even spell it, about visiting Japan. More from the cost to be fair.
I have visited a lot of countries including Asia over the last 8 years and can agree on so much of what you say. Thailand for instance is known as the land of smiles… and you think, hold on, how can a ‘whole’ land be known as a land of smiles.. Then you visit Thailand, and you go.. O.. Ok… 98% of the country does smile..!! And genuine smiles..
I can’t speak of Japan, but from my own experience, there is a sense of pride and resourcefulness in the East that differs on so many levels from the West. Respect isn’t about their position or status, ok sometimes it is, but for the most part, respect is from simply being human, and the positive virtues that can come from being human. Compassion, sincere, loving, etc
It reinvigorates a different sense of people in the world. Who in the west wouldn’t love a heated toilet seat..! breathing in incense, whilst listening to temple chanting. In the West it may sound woo woo to some people… but until you’ve gone, and someone gives you a takeaway cup of tea wrapped with a silk bow handle, then you think, Ok, is there something the rest of the world is doing wrong here.
Thailand is on my traveling bucket list!