Turning Japanese

Kenchoji Temple

I think I may just finally have got Japan out of my system, in a writing sense at least, although it took some months and 2,000 words of on and off scribbling, initial impressions jotted down upon leaving back in July finally expanded into a full-blown article. Or over-blown, you be the judge, this my fourth feature on the Land of the Rising Sun, inspired by a trip there that was only seven days long. Not to say that I have actually tired of this particular subject, or likely ever will—just run out of material, a very good excuse for a can't-come-soon-enough return...

My Japanese brother

A visit to a Zen monastery in Japan, meeting with a monk, more similarities than meet the eye.

Hotel Mets, Ofuna, Japan. On the outskirts of Tokyo, a city that begins and then never seems to end. I am here on a whirlwind, week long visit with Sri Chinmoy and students, sharing a room with a friend already awake before dawn, his the unusual habit of beginning the day with a coffee. And I do mean beginning—before hitting the shower and immediately after hitting the bedside floor. Thoughtfully, hotels in Japan cater for the most extreme caffeine addiction, machines vending blackest gold located conveniently on every floor. And pretty much everywhere else for that matter.

In other places you might call this commercial opportunism. Like in my country, where ATMs are more prevalent on street corners than police officers; the cynic would reply that they are more profitable to run. I will happily admit that my glasses are green-tea tinted, but will argue from more than just a position of Nihon-bias that not everything in Japan runs to a profit motive; like the incense imbued atmosphere of a Shinto shrine, the air here is thick with a culture of sacrifice and service.

Read more: My Japanese brother

Other stories about Japan

Sri Chinmoy on Japan