Sunday, May 10, 2015

Eastern contrast

It was a rainy day, not much unlike what they had left in the States not more than 21 hours ago, temperate and misting.
The cityscape truly was a sight beholden to the most futuristic of movies, as seen in Bladerunner, Lost in Translation and the like, feats of architecture so dynamic and with such attention to detail spawned across the entire city, in each ward down every narrow and wide street alike. Tadao Ando, just one name that stuck, memory isn't what it used to be, seemed his name kept coming up, I don't claim to know my architects one from the other, but I was truly intrigued by the technical bravura of most of the buildings we came across and so it was this, just one of the visual memories that stays with me of Tokyo.

We spent days between business meetings, exercising our new cultural behaviours, ceremony and ritual playing such integral parts of daily life in the Japanese culture. Honor and respect, pride and work ethic, humility, consensus, collective consciousness, exemplify the discoveries we repeatedly came into contact with that shook our contrasting individualistic existence in the west. These things were truly beautiful to experience. We have somehow made everything so complicated in the west, no single set of rules to follow that take the guess work out of so many small things, each thing minuscule or otherwise in the west gives chance to express individually. It is not to say that this is a negative quality but instead simply fascinating to observe other. It was rewarding to know, to have been given important tips on customs and enact what was learned, much appreciation was shown toward our attempts.

As we thread through this surreal cityscape encountering new things, making comparisons, being surprised by the unexpected we had an air of humor, we did not scoff at what we did not understand  it simply opened our eyes to the different ways things are done, whilst laughing at ourselves unable to find the rhythm of the city. This is truly the city that never sleeps, never slows down, never sits, until the subway, where it is my personal opinion that because one is so inundated with techno sensory stimulation and color and print and masses of moving people, it is here and only here that one can truly relax and recharge. If I had a dime for the number of people with their eyes closed, on each subway I'd have come home for sure with a Yohji Yamamoto piece on my back! 

On the topic of what made us laugh, really if you have never tried the truly intuitive Toto brand of toilets and sinks, you haven't lived. 
A toilet that creates white noise, is heated for your sitting comfort, washes and dries all your necessary parts and flushes automatically. If you're not laughing by the time you've left the bathroom stall, need only wash your hands in one of their sinks, pictured above is the effect the hand dryer has when placed within the sink bowl! 

Finally it wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention food, although I have no doubt that the cuisine of Japan is amazing we had an easier time, and here the surprise, finding fine French and Italian establishments! Having heard this, a new friend and frequent traveller to Tokyo promptly brought us to a traditional Okinawa style restaurant and there redeemed my  hope of finding exquisitely prepared and delicate Japanese cuisine, not to mention the Hubushu!!

We've come back, informed, happy and with a bigger sense of the whole having more importance than the one. 
takoyaki making, street food octpus filled dough balls

Daibatsu- giant Buddha in Kamakura

Denise doing her thing, at the Fred Segal opening

Bamboo forest Buddhist temple

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