Monday, May 20, 2013


The autumn of Kyoto, Japan
     Ok, I know I said I'd post relatively soon, and it's taken me a bit longer to get around to this, but that's mostly because the set of posts I'm really working on require a lot more thought and reflection that I had anticipated. So it is with controversial subjects. Anyways, until I can get the first one to my liking I thought I post a bit about the place I want to travel the most in the entire world: Japan. I have five reasons for believing that Japan is the most ideal country to visit, and perhaps live (although they are xenophobic... but only to people who want to live there forever... maybe to everyone...), and they are as follows:

     #1. Japan in simply the most beautiful country on the entire planet. There really is no contest. Every single season in this place is gorgeous.
Meguro River in Spring - Tokyo, Japan
Meguro River in Spring
Beautiful Fields in Hillside Hokkaido, Japan

Mnt. Fuji
Some Hillside in the middle of nowhere

Everywhere you go is amazing (I choose to believe this, contrary to any and all potential counter-evidence). They have Tokyo, rice fields, Kyoto, Hokkaido, and it's all just really amazing.

     #2. It's maybe, like, the only country in the entire world that I can go to where some of the people there are just as obsessed with their misconceptions of American culture as I am of my misconceptions of theirs.
Maybe misconception isn't the word... but seeing as how I've never been there I can't be sure...

     #3. I really do love the aspects of their culture that have been imported to America.
Fake Ramen s the best!
Anime is fantastic... albeit you have to be just as discerning with this as with anything else, but there are some incredibly compelling stories. Trigun, Full Metal Alchemist, Samurai Champloo, and the satires - oh the satires.

Studio Ghibli films are some of my favorite evar, and the studio is in Tokyo! (No but really, Howl's moving Castle and Whisper of the Heart are in my top 3 favorite movies of all time... ALL TIME).

It's always fun to listen to music that you can't understand... even when you have translated lyrics. Also the androgynous singers are fun too. 

Because you know that any country that has a Disney park is a place you want to be.

Tokyo Tower - but isn't that a knockoff of the Eiffel Tower you ask? No. It's bigger... and red... completely different.

     #4. Japan has a fascinating Christian history. 
Missionaries first arrived in the mid-sixteenth century, but no significant progress was made, for by the end of the sixteenth century the Shogunate started persecuting Christians, to the point of martyring many (including crucifying some). Japan then closed itself off from the outside world for nearly 200 years, but Christianity did not die out. It survived, garbled and severely diminished, but when missionaries were allowed back in the country in the 1800's, there were still some Christians there. Christianity then began to grow slowly, and Nagasaki became the center of Christian life in Japan... until it was blown up in 1945. But there is still a Christian presence in the country (however small) and some of its most important cultural figures are not only openly professing Christians, but make Christian themes the subject of their work - i.e. Shusaku Endo, and Makoto Fujimura.

     #5. Japan's real culture is both stunning and mysterious. 
It's so different from Western culture in general, not to mention America, it's incredibly fascinating. They're so formal, but it's fascinating. Everything from their temples, tea ceremonies, dress, mannerisms is incredibly fascinating. They have a whole different mythos on which their culture is built, but they're also dealing with the same modern problems (increased secularization, etc.) that threaten Western culture. It's like we're both dying, but we both have such beautiful things to offer still. 

     I guess it all boils down to that ultimately. When I look at their culture, whether rightly or wrongly, I feel a sense of solidarity, a sense that Japan, just like the West, is an old, proud, beautiful cultural tradition that must figure out how to survive in a modern world. Sure I love a lot of their modern stuff, I love a lot of America's modern stuff, but more than that I love the cultural foundations of each, and I would relish the opportunity to experience the world from a completely different perspective, to stand on a different foundation. 

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