Nothing about Japan is cold. Paradoxes and parodies abound with Formality and Tradition the big brothers to the young mischievous ruckus of Kawaii Super Cute and Neon Love.
A part of my soul has come home. Japan is sublime. From the moment I boarded the flight from Auckland to Tokyo, an experience filled with juxtaposition, contradictions and an unflustered air began. NZ95 must be the well pressed trooper of the fleet- from a beige & more formal past time. It was service with a smile, comfort with rugs and pillows and coloured by beige and chocolate brown interior highlights. As NZ slipped away, a very gentle calm descended.
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Writing this is hard- where the hell to start- it is all epic?! Currently I am in the most Northern island of Japan- Hokkaido, and a couple of hours south of Sapporo in Niseko. I am here for a relatively medium sized length of string (I never have plans set in stone); the next week is with an international group of adventurers for a gathering of likeminded individuals who are exploring new concepts of how creativity effects the neuroplasicity of the brain. Mindfulness and Flow are high productivity techniques that are achieved through self awareness, structured goal setting and by pushing ourselves out of the comfort zone. How activity, movement (mediation and yoga) and risk management (aka adventure sports) effect our process to hit the sweet spot of performance, how to nurture and care for ourselves after passing through this stage and ultimately, how to reach our full potential. HARRO!
The day I arrived I blew in with an ENORMOUS and unsuspected dump of snow- EEEeeoooW!!
In three days I have snowboarded in day and night, three fields- An’nupuri, Grand Hirafu and Hanazono. I have hiked the summit Mt Niseko An’nupuri, trekked, meditated, Chi Gong'ed (Japanese Tai Chi), yogi'ed, noshed amazing food- geeked out on incredible packaging (which is packaged in another package, within a package- you should see the recycling regime!!), met amazing locals and people from further abroad and fallen in love with Onsen.
A few things I have loved and of note so far:
Onsen (hot-pools) are communal group bathing pools with a custom and ceremony which I have found instantly addictive. Women and men are split and bathing is done nude, yet a graceful and considerate respect is between all participants. Relaxing and taking care of yourself at the end of the day is a beautiful reflection time without rush or distraction.
The Western world could do with dipping her toes into this concept. I enjoy observing how this arrangement facilitates a time for women to gather and relax together without self conscious and concerned with image. This custom and many other examples in Japanese culture have made me realise how very young new New Zealand’s culture really is. Which is rather intriguing really, because we have geothermal pools and history and heritage in enjoying them- but it's a very different energy and protocol. We are but the gravel starting to seal at the beginning of a road paved in time.
I like being Gaijin. I like opening my eyes and ears to unfamiliar surroundings and observing other traditions to assimilate into my new surroundings. Anonymity and my curiosity are a well suited pair to my adventurous spirit which is allowing me to find, seek and explore new physical, mental and conceptual platforms.
HEATED TOILET SEATS. Nuff said- revolutionary. I need one good reason why this aint global?
The countryside is picturesque and strangely familiar as it really is like the woodblocks and ink works I have admired and studied over the years. The images of my dreams are reality and lead into my sense of familiarity. Even though I have a knowledge of Japan- I was conscious to put aside expectations and arrive without assumptions- there are surprises everywhere^=^