Saturday, 5 October 2013

then and now in Nippon

When I lived here 30 years ago Japan was a global powerhouse. It led the world in electronic and motor vehicle manufacturing and there was a sense of it having succeeded in doing economically what it had failed to do militarily. A lot has happened in the decades since and while Japan retains some influence in the areas it once dominated, it now attracts international curiosity in some completely different areas.

The Japanese are masters at managing small spaces. Craftsmanship is also strong. Alongside the propensity to adopt cutting edge fashion, Japan has now become a recurring 'go to' place to showcase contemporary design and lifestyle. Two illustrations of this are Monocle's regular articles featuring aspects of Japan and Kinfolk's recent feature edition in celebration of the Japanese way. My hunch is that there has emerged a kind of humility in the Japanese way over recent decades that might have helped contribute to this, but others are better qualified to comment on this.

Coming here this year was more than recreation. I have long wanted to share a taste of this land and its people with Maria. It has been fabulous, and especially with having reconnected with the Kunitates, all my expectations have been met. I wanted to not only connect with aspects of my furusato but I wanted to see and feel the stuff that might define Japan's contribution into the future. Tokyo's endless surprises and the flourishing hipster vibe in the cities is perhaps a taste of this. 

We started the day yesterday in the quiet streets of Takayama and emerged at the end of the day in the lively and funky Akasaka (Tokyo). And now, (after catching up with my good mate Steve Hopkins at Omotesando Koffee, and visiting a couple of art museums in Roppongi- today's plans) we are ready to head home. Thoughtful, satisfied and with some more things ticked off our 'list'.

Started the day here, and finished ...