Posted by: Zach | May 10, 2009

Why am I not surprised, though?


Wait, why is it under construction?

You’d be surprised at what Japan does to you.
At first, you go through a phase where everything’s interesting, everything’s new, everything’s fun, then it turns a little and you’re left in a place that’s overwhelming.
Not to say that that’s a bad thing. Oh, no. If you like to be overwhelmed in every sense, seeing new things every day, wondering about a new nuance every moment, then come here and please have a wonderful time, because I know you will.
I know I have.
Now let’s get to what I’m talking about:

Supposedly modern space-needles totally help your concentration during Zen meditiation.

Supposedly modern space-needles totally help your concentration during Zen meditiation.

As I was walking with a friend through the oh-so-scenic Arashiyama, a district right next to where I live in Kyoto, I was struch with both the beauty and the odd juxtaposition of such natural beauty with something so concrete, so artificial in every sense.
You’d have to be in Kyoto to see it for yourself. I know I’d never’ve believed exactly how striking seeing a temple gate right next to a four-story apartment complex would be if I’d told my former self what I knew today to be true.
No, you’ll find Liquor Mountains (what do you think it is, really?) literally 100 meters away from a scenic hillside here. Anything goes.
In the middle of any residential neighborhood ~choose one on a map, throw a dart for godssake~ I can show you a shrine to the local Shinto kami (spirit) who guards that smallish congregation of people. The same goes for shops. If you see a block of shops without a temple or a miniature shrine connected to it, call someone and take pictures, because I’m sure it will be the only one in Japan.
While you laugh at what is surely an exaggeration, realize that I’m not actually kidding, just stating the facts. At least it holds true here, in the heart of what is truly the fusion of neoJapan.



But if you don’t believe me and take a tour of even a place as huge and metropolitan as Osaka (by the way, this is one of the top ten largest metropolitan areas in the world -Osaka/Kobe/Kyoto- with 17 million inhabitants, so don’t think I’m in some tourist trap), you’ll find evidence of this sensory overload and amazing juxtaposition of odd architcture and shops that really should have no place in any “regular” first-world country.

Take for instance the picture most recently attached to this: outside of a cosplay (girls dressing up as maids, Victorian ducchesses, or cats among other things) cafe, these two girls were singing Anime songs and trying to attract business while a throng of onlookers tried to edge just a little closer to them.

I’ve only got one phrase for this: “only in Japan.” And while I could go on, I’ll let you guys take a breather with my shortest post yet, and get ready for another.

‘Cuz you know you like it.


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