While admiring the beautiful bonsai plants in the Denver Botanical garden, I asked myself – How did my obsession with Japan start?
The answer is simple.
During childhood, I used to watch Samurai Jack on the cartoon network. I would never miss an episode. I still remember how gracefully Jack killed the evil dragon with his sword. Of course, I admired Samurai’s honor, courage & bravery – their stories are the legend.
After two decades later, I got invited to a friend’s wedding in South Asia. I thought “the universe is giving me a sign to visit Japan.” I spent 2 weeks there and was living my childhood dream – visiting beautiful Samurai castles, listening to their legends, and meditating in Zen temple. I did everything to embrace their culture from Onsen (hot spring bath) to sleeping in a Ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel).
I was impressed and learned few valuable lessons:
- We should always respect each other: Bowing is an important part of Japanese culture and emphasizes respect to each other on every occasion. I was so impressed with how much courtesy & politeness is built into their culture.
- We should cherish every moment: This concept was explained by a school friend who lives in Kobe. Japanese cherish each and every moment of their life and live in the present moment. I try to practice this in my current lifestyle.
- Always go the extra mile: Whenever I ask for direction in Japan, people will always guide me. Sometimes, they will go the extra mile and walk with me to my destination. Helping others makes us human and we shouldn’t stop doing it.
- Simplicity is the best: Japanese prefer simplicity. Everything is designed with simplicity and asymmetry in mind. You can feel it in their temples, restaurants, and buildings. Now, keep it simple is my new mantra of my life.
- Cleanliness and appreciation: Japan is one of the cleanest countries I have seen so far. While talking to the manager of my hostel, I learned that people play an important part in keeping the country clean as appreciation of nature is deep rooted in their culture. Also, children are taught about the importance of recycling in school so that when they grow up, they become environmentally conscious. I always knew recycling is important but was never aware of developing a conscience. As the host said, “we need to preserve nature for the future generation so they can appreciate what we see & appreciate now”.
On a side note, people always ask what’s my favorite part of Japan? I reply with a wink “toilet seats”. Well, I can’t describe it as you need to visit Japan to experience it.
P.S – 1: In my Aikido class, I met a Japanese man who was 79 years old but had the flexibility of a 35 years old. That’s my life goal when I am 70 years old.
P.S 2- I haven’t written new blog in a while. I will post frequently!