In Japan, everything is so different from the familiar to us, it seems that you got into another dimension

Due to their long isolation and the rapid development of technology, the Japanese have managed to preserve a culture unlike any other. In the previous article, I talked about their nutritional characteristics, and today I will share other traditions that impressed me.

Ability to live beautifully

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In Japan, the contrasting combination of temples and skyscrapers immediately catches the eye. Observing beauty is one of the natural skills and favorite activities of the Japanese. Hence their passion for gardens of stone, sand and greenery, cherry blossoms and various rituals. One of them is the tea ceremony. And I became convinced that this is indeed more than a simple tea party. Thanks to this action, the Japanese find harmony, balance and warmth, which they then pass on to their guests.

Traditionally, the ceremony takes place in a tea house, which leads to a white path through the garden, symbolizing the path to purification. All worries and vanity must be left along the way.

Water is drawn from a large copper boiler and tea powder is poured over it. The first time the tea is stronger, the second time a little weaker. The more cracks on the dishes, the older they are, the more appreciated. This is one of the ways to show respect to guests. The ceremony consists of different actions - from direct brewing of tea and conversations to preparing an ikebana, which is then placed in the center of the table.

I don't know if the drink was so tasty, or if the process itself acts like meditation, but sitting on the tatami , I wanted to keep looking at the seemingly ordinary action that the Japanese were able to turn into art.

Hardworking nation

With no less enthusiasm and consistency in the Land of the Rising Sun they treat work. The Japanese often take overtime hours and try to be faithful to one company all their lives.

Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and one of the main reasons for this is layoffs or lack of career advancement.

The literacy rate in the country is almost 100%; higher education is compulsory for all residents.

Geisha is prestigious

Translated from Japanese, the word "geisha" means a man of art. After The World War II geisha in the Western world beginning to be associated with a woman of easy virtue, although their role is quite different in the Japanese society. 

In the 17th century, to make banquets more fun and interesting, actors of the Kabuki theater were invited to them. Initially, only men played in it, but over time they began to attract women as well.

A geisha must be educated, be able to play musical instruments, sing, dance, hold a tea ceremony, keep abreast of world news, maintain a conversation on any topic, amuse guests and drink alcohol with them (but not eat). A geisha can flirt with men, but intimate contact is unacceptable.

 

Modern geisha work in teahouses, the owners of which pay for their training and appropriate appearance. At a young age, after the agreement of their parents, girls enter such homes for education and go through a rather difficult school with daily lessons in music, dancing and good manners. 

After two to four years of training, geisha are invited to dinners, parties and meetings. Modern geisha earn from 5 to 10 thousand dollars a month, and only wealthy politicians and businessmen can afford to spend an evening with them. 

A valuable ability of geishas is the ability to listen to the interlocutor, giving him the opportunity to speak out, and keep secrets. In Japan, there is a saying that wives exist for life, and geisha for the soul. 

 

In Tokyo and Kyoto, there are only a couple of hundred real geishas left, so the demand for them is very high. They attend several meetings in one evening.

Fortune telling

Omikuji is a popular Japanese temple divination. Predictions and forecasts are printed on oblong pieces of paper. The fortuneteller shakes his top hat and draws out his prophecy. If you liked what you wrote, you take the piece of paper and carry it with you until it comes true. If the prediction does not suit you, you can tie it in a specially designated place near the temple.

Japan has managed to maintain its authenticity and at the same time become one of the most developed countries in the world. Contrasts are everywhere here: men in strict office suits read manga comics on the train, monks in temples take selfies, and six-year-olds travel on their own in multi-million dollar Tokyo.

In June, Goodwin and I are going on a journey to experience the atmosphere of this amazing country and learn how the Japanese live. Our program differs from the usual tourist routes, because we will live in a Buddhist monastery, talk with geishas and ninjas, climb Fuji and meet the sunrise there.