Six months in Japan

Familiarity and strangeness. Technology and traditions. Misunderstanding and wonder. Japan is a country of contrasts. A mad, extraordinary, annoying, amazing country. I spent six months, from November 2014 to April 2015. At the time, during my trip, I had a little trouble adjusting to the strange feeling that accompanied me constantly. The strange impression of walking on a wire. This mixture of familiarity and difference attracted me and pushed me away. The blend of American-European culture and Japanese ancestral traditions, absolute kindness and coldness, beauty and ugliness was destabilizing. But that’s what made the trip so interesting. And I have only one desire: to return to immerse myself body and soul.

The old lady of the inn poses in front of me the breakfast dishes: rice, fried fish, seaweed, miso soup, meat in small pieces soaked in a sauce, pumpkin wedges, slices of lotus flowers, some fruit quarters and matcha (Japanese green tea). It is 7am. A thought crosses my mind: but where are the bread and Nutella?

It took me a while to enjoy the typical Japanese meals. Generally presented in traditional inns and restaurants, they are marvels of aesthetics and nutritional benefits. The French taste buds have a little trouble accepting the very subtle or very strong taste of certain foods. But once accustomed, it’s a delight.

What struck and impressed me the most in Japan is the beauty of the aestheticism of the traditions: the kimonos and costumes, the lanterns in the streets, the cherry blossom season, the architecture and scenery of the temples, the presentation of street stands, the festivals … It is, for me, where lies the ancestral soul of Japan. In the details, in the use of colors, in the search of aesthetics.

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