A photo diary.
Japan offered me both an overt mimicry of my expectations and a blatant refusal to be reduced to such a synopsis. It embraced me in an unconditional welcome and yet kept me in a chronic state of arms-length isolation with its exoticism. It concealed its secrets from my greedy-tourist eyes yet allowed me to garner enough morsel-like glimpses of its resplendent culture to ensnare me in a state of unquenchable intrigue.
My trip to Japan was an ellipse of waif-like snowflakes; a saturation of all things outlandish, kitsch and innovative; a heightened exposure to the contemporary and futuristic; a gentle and organised chaos.
Japan was Wonderland and I was Alice, chasing a myriad of Geisha down streets laden with the crippling weight of their neon-light-adornments, lead by fleeting glances of bright, technicolour kimonos peaking cheekily through the throng of Winter-imposed monochrome. The insistently trilling rabbit of the metaphor was the ever-bustling crowds; their calm urgency perpetually evocative of a sense of ones own tardiness.
Never have I seen such an overwhelming concentration of sugary foods molded into such adorable approximation of animals at any one time, as when I was in Japan. Never had I witnessed such peace and tranquility in a city, as I did amongst the intensity of Tokyo. Never have I seen such a harmonious juxtaposition of historical and contemporary culture, as exhibited by the many oxymorons of Japanese life. Temples and skyscrapers exist as courteous neighbbours in the confined quarters of Tokyo city. Geisha run errands amongst the consumeristic exhibitionism of Kyoto grocery store aisles, still clad in their traditional garb. Men make nonchalant adornments of wild animals, as they display a domesticated monkey atop their shoulder whilst purchasing a ticket for one of the world’s most state-of-the-art subway systems, all the while toting a Louis Vuitton carrier for their exotic pet.
Upon anticipating my visit to Japan, I had expected an abundance of all things contemporary, ingenious and technologically advanced. I had braced myself for a bombardment of kuwaii and nauseating colour. I had foreseen a strong undercurrent of tradition, reverence and delicate majesty. And upon visiting the country, it had provided all of these things in copious amounts.
But there is so much more to the Japanese culture that cannot be defined. There is a complexity to the culture that urges you to want to be a part of it.
The Japanese culture is infectious and upon exposure, incurable. It evokes a yearning inside its victims to continue uncovering its intricacies.
Fortunately for such victims, such a rich cultural excavation is a task worthy of dedicating a lifetime to.