What Inspires Me: The Japanese

by Jonathan Galbreath

18 October, 2010

Recently, my wife and I had the chance to travel to Japan.  We spent 18 days packing in as much as we could: We saw a lot!  What paled in comparison to the magnificent natural beauty and temples was the culture.

I have been interested in the East for many reasons.  Every country is so different … and Japan didn’t let me down.

The People: Hands down the friendliest, most cheerful, glad to be alive society that I have seen, thus far.  Never once were we taken advantage of, never laughed at, made uncomfortable.  Everyone went out of their way to make sure we had a great time.  I recall a woman asking us, in English, if we knew where we were going.  She not only told us were to go, she walked us to our train at Tokyo Station, which is massive – unreal.  Everything we bought was either exactly what we were told it was going to cost or the actually charged us less – and didn’t want to be thanked.  People were very kind to each other.  Everyone was very aware of their surrounding and made sure not to offend anyone.  The trains, cabs, subways, planes, etc., were deathly silent.

The Buddhism: From now on, when I think Buddhism, I think Japan.  Too many reasons to explain why.  Less is more, more or less.

The Design: Minimalism and Feng Shui.  I suppose it easy to let the Chi flow when you walk into a room and there is everything you need … and nothing you don’t.  Compounding the minimalism was the cleanliness.  Restaurants, hotels and public places were spotless – not a spec of dust to be found in the corner.  Rarely did we see the outside … left out.  Indoor gardens, raw material construction and waterfalls.

The Nationalism: This is a hard one to nail down in a short blog post.  I know that a fear of The Japanese is individualism.  In a country so heavily teamwork driven, I can understand why.  Granted, I was only there for a few weeks, but the evidence of “individuality” I saw was moot when it came to self respect and respect for others.  It’s a win win.  No one cares what you look like.  It seems that all The Japanese care about is, “What is for the greater good.” and if you can stick to that … then you can “be”, whoever you want.

Think about how physically small the country Japan is and how powerful they are, economically, spiritually, athletically, etc … How they have been able to maintain this for centuries, while being one of the most technologically advanced countries is beyond my comprehension as a Macbook Pro, iPad and iPhone toting American “businessman”.

If I said anything negative about Japan, I’d say it’s too expensive, but then I think it’s almost Utopian.  So then I’d say, “Don’t ever serve me “white disc”, please.”  I have no idea what that shit was … and it is borderline inexcusable.

For some images from my trip you can visit – www.foreignnature.com

Arigato!