An interesting article about a Japanese writer son. And no I haven't read him but will put him on my to be read pile. But that's not the reason I'm sending this to you. It's to give you an idea of Japan.
Most countries that I have visited are open to the world. But out of the 60 or so countries that I have visited, Japan is perhaps one of the most insular in the world. It's an extraordinarily polite society. The taxi drivers or others do not take tips. It's violently clean. Seriously totally extraordinarily clean. Everything is clean, roads, garbage bins, loos, you name it.
And because of its insularity, the culture is strange. It's like another planet. Art, language, paintings, sex, working, hair styles, tv etc etc have evolved just enough to make you feel amazed and confused slightly. It's like going to Australia and observing its natural history. Because of its distance and remoteness from any other landmass, animals and plants in Australia have evolved differently. Same with Japan.
Food there is exquisite in terms of fish and beef and and but avoid their curry, it's like warmed over puke. They are so stoic but are capable of extraordinary sensitivity and brutality. Their music is quite different and their plays are also amazingly different from the usual ones you might see here in London. It's like they have a very placid, very thick, very deep cover which makes them very phlegmatic but underneath its a swirling writhing mass of molten lava like emotions. For a bong whose emotions and feelings are on my face and surface without any control, it was amazing to experience Japan.
But there is one thing which I learnt from them son, and is to love nature as they do. I'll try to explain it. You know I keep on saying that something spoke to me? For me, the best experiences in my life have been when something speaks to me without using words. A little church in Athens, the vivekananda rock, saqqara, edge of the world in Riyadh, the woods up in grimsdike in stanmore, some places in lake district, etc etc.
The reason is that one has to quieten yourself to listen to what nature is telling you. If you go to Japan, or be with Japanese, you might learn this. Quieten yourself. Stay silent and then watch the mountains, a cloud, a little brook, a beautiful tree, a lovely sculpture, an old book. Whatever son. See inside and you will see the beauty around you.
You may want to look at the Japanese movies we have, they are a good start.
btw, here is an interesting item which lists the things that people find surprising about Japan.
1. The trains actually come on time
2. The fruit is really delicious (There’s a lot of cross breeding)
3. The bread at 7-11 is really good
4. Taxi doors open automatically
5. The high likelihood of lost items being returned to you
6. Everyone eats KFC for Christmas dinner
7. There are vending machines absolutely everywhere
8. You can buy alcohol and tobacco from those ubiquitous vending machines
9. The Washlet bidets
10. You can drink water from the tap
11. The tea isn’t sweetened
12. You can smoke in restaurants
13. There are free samples at the supermarket
14. There are tolls on the highways
15. You can find absolute masterpieces of pastry at cake shops
16. The confusing, complex layout of Tokyo
17. The buttons to summon a waiter at family-style restaurants
18. Touch-screen menus at bars and restaurants
19. There are holes in the 5 and 50 yen coins
20. People hand out free packets of tissues on the street
21. The quality and selection at 100 yen shops
22. Japanese people really like Yahoo!
23. GPS is automatically included in rental cars
24. You can leave a bag to save your seat and no one will steal it
25. A small-size drink is actually quite small
26. There are power lines all over the place
27. People politely line up to wait for the train
28. Heated toilet seats
29. The high price of movie tickets
30. There are pachinko parlors everywhere
31. The skill used in wrapping gifts and other purchases
32. The multi-story parking garages
33. The ETC (Electronic Toll Collection) system on the highways
34. There are hot springs just for your feet
35. There are women-only cars on the trains
36. The love hotels
37. Cigarettes are really cheap
38. It’s so safe you can go walking around in the middle of the night with no problem
39. Japanese squat-style toilets
40. The incredible variety of KitKat flavors
41. There are still elevator girls who operate the elevator for you
42. The packets of condiments that you can easily open with one hand
43. Capsule hotels
44. The lucky bags sold at New Years
45. The rooms at business hotels are tiny.
46. The foreign guys dating beautiful Japanese girls are often ugly
And the 25 things which will blow your mind.