My Obsession With The Land of The Rising Sun
For the longest time, I have had this incredible need to travel to Japan. I have never quite been able to put my finger on what it is that has ensnared me with the country, but perhaps it comes from an early love of the work of Studio Ghibli, the most prominent animation house in Japan. Through their work, they give us Westerners a glimpse at the whimsical culture that surrounds the country, particularly the art and the food (there’s something about the food in Studio Ghibli’s films that is equally exotic, simple and yet delicious looking!)
I have always been a huge nerd. From as early as I can remember I was obsessed with video games, movies and anything really to do with popular culture. Back in the nineties so much of this culture, particularly video games, originated from Japan. I would lose myself for hours at a time in the worlds created by the masters of the industry whether it be the characters of Miyamoto (Mario, Zelda) the music of Uematsu (Final Fantasy composer) or the craziness of Kojima (Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders.) The animated films and series coming out of Japan between the late 80’s and early 2000’s were also just incredible. Think Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Cowboy Bebop. To a culture accustomed to the work of Disney, seeing these mature animated works was a completely fresh experience to many! Nowadays nerd culture has become mainstream, gaming is an accepted pastime but back in the nineties and early noughties it was not cool to be a nerd, not in the UK anyway!
Japan, however, has always embraced their popular culture in a way that is still not seen in Western countries. I’ve always been attracted to those who are passionate about the things that they love, and the scrawny, nerdy kid in me just loves the outward display of passion shown throughout the country. I am also a massive technology enthusiast, and Japan is always at the forefront of technological advancement. If you want to see the kind of stuff we will be embracing in the coming years then look at what Japan is developing now.
The wonder doesn’t end there though. Coupled with the technology and the modern way of life is the total embracement of their past with shrines, temples and a near worship level of love for nature and all that is natural. You might be walking along a city street and see a Geisha walking past. Hectic peace and tranquillity would sum up the Japanese way of life. There’s a layer of action and a thrum of life overlaid by a sense of quietness and an unassuming nature.
I think the first piece of live action media that really left me fascinated with the country, particularly Tokyo was the film Lost in Translation. Never before or since have I experienced a movie with such a strong sense of place. While it’s horribly cliche to describe a location as a character, I struggle to find another way in which to really explain the effect that Tokyo has on the film. It was after watching that I really knew that one day I would absolutely need to visit.
I was browsing the Lonely Planet website the other day, yearning for the country upon which I have laid so much expectation and came across this quote…
Japan is truly timeless, a place where ancient traditions are fused with modern life as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
That about sums up what I expect to find when I finally get to experience the land of the rising sun for myself!
Where in the world would you like to visit and why?