“Most of all, don’t plunge and be trapped in the glue of respect”. After a journey through Japan, writer and traveller Nicolas Bouvier warned against that inhibiting tendency that can cause visitors to miss out on a lot of opportunities when travelling abroad. Japan can certainly be disconcerting. It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between yes and no, to act in an appropriate way in different circumstances, but, at the end of the day, Japan invites you to be yourself.
Whether you wander through Tokyo or Osaka’s flashy streets and neon districts, from the clinking of machines to the waves of people, or you relax in one of Kyoto’s water gardens and temples where incense burns at all times, you will discover how surprising this country is. Ever since the Meiji Era, in the 19th century, Japan has imposed its up-beat tempo on the Western world. High-speed trains, indoor ski slopes, shopping galleries that sell the most up-to-the-minute designs...Japan is outrageous but also intimate, and this is not only in the last small wooden villages where you can bathe among hot springs. Once you enter the heart of its huge cities, you can go into any theatre and find a Nô play, for example, that will lead you, through its gestures of an unsettling sensuality, to the core of Japan’s mysticism. Or go into cheap restaurants that allow you to escape the exorbitant prices of many restaurants, and be delighted by the country’s gastronomy. Japan’s culture has been built between typhoons and gentle morning breezes, between flower arrangements and car manufacturing, between the beginnings of empires and the independence of the islands. To penetrate its soul, you only need to let yourself be carried along.