So far West I’m East

August 26th, 2010

So I'm in Japan. 

I know.  JAPAN!!

I guess I never thought I would actually get here… it's funny how we carry around whole worlds in our heads–our future, goals, prejudices, fantasies–and then we get confronted by reality.  And reality is always SOOO different from these cities in our minds.  Different color.  Different feeling.  Different everything. 

First, let me say, I'm loving it here.  Even though Tokyo was hotter than hell, and moved at a ridiculous speed, there is a strange peace within it all.  It seems like there is a poise in the Japanese character that is inherently soothing.  It lets you relax.  It makes me realize that, in North America, many of us wear our personalities on our sleeves, pushing pushing pushing our "selves" into the public domain, dirtying up the collective with our ego pollution.  Japan is quieter than that.  You don't hear loud conversations on the subway.  You don't even hear cell phone calls–they're not acceptable.  Everyone basically keeps to themselves, whether that means playing a game on their phone or sleeping on the train, they are just a quieter, more polite crew. 

I'm old enough to appreciate that.  Maybe we should all spend our twenties in New York, and our sixties in Sapporo. 

I feel like a slob here.  EVERYONE dresses like they care.  It's strange–there doesn't seem to be one pervasive style (although "cute"–"ka waii" in Japanese–is a very big word here) but no one gets up in the morning and just throws on a layer of clothing mindlessly.  Like some redheaded macrobiotic bloggers do.  Everyone seems to have made conscious choices, whether it's the salary men in their suits, or the "rebel" setting his perfectly tousled hair, or the woman in the kimono, there is a certain yang committment to every choice .   

I've eaten some good food.  Not just the Japanese fare–excellent ramen, killer sushi–but I've been to a couple of macrobiotic restaurants that left me singing with joy.  There's nothing like a long flight, bad jetlag and 95 degree heat to make me appreciate the power of healthy food. 

We are now in Hokkaido, the big island to the Northeast of the main island.  We caught this evening's sunset from a huge ferris wheel.  Which happened to be on the roof of a department store.  A department store that included a bowling alley.  

I would post photos but my computer doesn't seem to want to do that right now. 

More to come… 

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