Friday, February 13, 2009

Detail of Japan

"A young boy protects his snacks from being eaten by seagulls in Yamashita Park in Yokohama, Japan on Jan. 3, 2008."

I waited exactly one month before I allowed my taste buds soak up the delicious flavors of sushi following my return from Japan. I should have waited longer though because I have never been so uninterested in sushi here in the United States as I was last Friday.

While enjoying indigenous foods is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a foreign county, I miss so much more about the land of the rising sun than the rice...and my meals. I have reverse culture shock.

One month ago, I returned from a two-week venture throughout mainly Honshu, Japan - my second time in the country. I traveled from Tokyo to Fukuoka, Fukuoka to Hiroshima, Hiroshima to Hemeji, Hemeji to Osaka, Osaka to Kyoto, and then finally back to Tokyo again.

This time I was joined by Kate, and again, my local friends I made last trip, who helped us make sense of this country I love.

As we hopped from plane to plane, train to train and hotel to hotel we found ourselves in a mix of new and old. Many places where one could easily imagine themselves in a different time - future or past.

From standing on the streets of Hiroshima that was subjected to nuclear warfare in 1945 and feeling nothing but despair, to sitting in a crammed sushi restaurant feeling pure joy as I ate the freshest fish in the world, to being swallowed by crowds of people in a crisscrossing crosswalk in one of the world's most populous metropolitans feeling as small as a piece of sand; there really isn't much more to say than Japan is simply fascinating in so many different ways.

Many say it's a long journey on a fast train. I felt as if it was fast journey on fast train. Each time I go, I stay a little longer only wishing that I could have stayed a couple more days.

While I am still finding difficult to completely understand their culture, from their gestures and ways of life, I still have the same perceptions as I did last time.

Japan is host to some of the kindest people on earth. Not only are they generous, but it’s the safest country in the world. Japanese make an American, like myself; see how rude we truly are and how perfect their culture is.

OK, so they aren't really perfect, but if I had to sum up the country in one word it would be perfection; and maybe that's why I love it there.

I strive for perfectionism everyday, but I know I’ll never be perfect, nor is anything or anybody.

Yet that isn't to say I am going to quit. That's why we practice what we love - with ultimate goal of reaching perfection. Enough about me, I guarantee anyone who has been to Japan will say the county is full of detail.

Everything Japanese do involves passion. They are incredible people doing incredible things, mainly dealing with technology and electronics. As an outsider, I find this passion and attention to detail to be a strong correlation with their self-discipline.

While it can be totally chaotic in their major cities (and everyone is drunk in Tokyo), their morals and ethics of life should be a lesson for everyone to follow. That can easily be backed up by one of the lowest crime rates on the planet. They are taught not to disrespect their family in any way.

One of my favorite things last time was getting lost in Tokyo. The mixture of lights and sounds, smell of cigarettes and this other distinct scent I simply cannot describe, perfect placement of vending machines on each corner, unbelievable crowded commutes, and worlds within worlds all made me never want to leave.

However, this trip I found myself engulfing myself in the rich history of the county's past. Don't get me wrong, I was again fascinated by Tokyo. I mean fashion trendsetters in Tokyo make women in New York City look like 13-year-olds trying to wear makeup for the first time. And I love that. That new different wave of youth and energy. Yet there is just something so pure about the old ways of Japan.

It goes back to the attention to detail and the quiet temples and gardens that are so sureal. The primitive ways of life that are still practiced with no worries or cares. I enjoyed this way more.

While I still did not see and shoot everything I wanted to this trip, including sumo wrestling, the Tsukji Fish Market or eating sushi ryokan style, I miss it. I miss it all.

I've come not only to enjoy my times in Japan, but to respect their ways of life. I feel so nostalgic just writing all this. I miss the food, the people, the entire culture. I cannot wait to go back one day and see even more that I have not seen. I cannot thank my friends enough for all they did. You all are extraordinary people.

But traveling does this to me. It opens up my eyes to the reality of live. While it may not change all of my perceptions, habits, and maybe even values, it does change the way you view life. Americans have this overriding desire and notion to be powerful and perfect. When you step outside of that way of life and see things differently, it's a refreshing recharge to life that cannot be viewed any other way than with travel.

Anyways, enough words, right? Here are some of my favorite frames from my trip. And I threw some others in there as well. It's the Internet, I have unlimited ones and zeros. Enjoy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stunning set of photos, patrick!

Friday, February 13, 2009 2:48:00 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Great trip and great images. I really like your photographic style.

Friday, February 13, 2009 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the photos from your trip! It looks like I will be going to Japan for a decently long trip this summer, and I'm just insanely excited about it.

Friday, February 13, 2009 1:40:00 PM  

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