Q: Why go to this strange, expensive, strenuous country ?
A: Because it is both so different and so cultured
or to put it another way It's the most alien place with good plumbing
- Where else can you get this combination ...
(and yes it is expensive but it will cost less than the average banker will lose you in a year - but instead leave positive memories for life)
and because we like sushi
Because we like: the culture, wood prints, bamboo forests, ikebana, harakiri, food (kobe beef, sushi prepared using the principles of "ichi motsu zen shoku"- "one item, consumed entirely" i.e. use fish/veg etc. totally, and without waste and "washoku" - harmonious combination of colours, textures, flavours, cooking methods, Tokyo has 191 Michelin Stars - more than any other city etc.), gardens, lacquerware, no tipping, bonsai, netsuke, courtesy, respect for privacy, veneration of old age, pride in work, sense of beauty (also in everyday things), calligraphy, politeness, shinkansen, kimonos, origami, ceramics, white-gloved escalator attendants, mix of natural and artificial, anti-americanism (understandable after Hiroshima, I suppose), gift wrapping, selling schoolgirls' underwear in vending machines
Also like the corporate values (refreshingly different to American):
- competition doesn't mean earning more but serving better
- company has greater loyalty to its employees than its shareholders
- the objective is to keep the greatest number of people equally happy
Even though we don't like:
Summer humid weather, 1000 earthquakes per year (= 3 per day !), 20 typhoons per summer, No/Kabuki theatre, tea ceremony, violence in sex, denying war crimes, lack of fruit, whale burgers (for research only, of course), noise/warnings, sweets/deserts/bean paste in pastry and the standard tourist fare (Disneyland, Mount Fuji, Beppu, Expo, Geisha)
We enjoy the curiosities:
see below under "Identity"
We fly to Japan, see some people already made friends with via e-mail, do a course on japanese cookery, cooking utensils and foodmarkets, take the bullet train, stay in a traditional Ryokan, watch the Kobe famers massaging their beef with sake (which they don't), see the architecture in Naoshima and then take the trip back visiting some of the greatest hotels in Asia (Architect's Benesse House, Manila Pearl Farm, Peking Capitalists' Club - see below)