04 April 2010

Why I use "heart" and Japan in the same sentence

vending machines as facade in Kyoto

I'm not one of those people who uses many emoticons or slangy online chat speech (although I'm a victim of the occasional 'lol' and :D ). But I want to declare that I <3 Japan. Somehow it seems more appropriate given the graphic and often cute nature of things Japanese.

It's been almost a week since coming back to the States. And I miss Japan. My schedule this week could be seen as a trail of Japanese moments:
  • On Tuesday, I decided to write my final research paper for the Theory of City Form on Tokyo.
  • On Wednesday, I checked out 20 books on Tokyo from Rotch library and wrote my paper proposal (looking at Tokyo's seemingly spontaneous urban development as related to slum development).
  • Today I went to the MIT bookstore and got a book of Fumihiko Maki's essays on architecture and the city.
  • I also ate udon with Reem and Ryan at Samurai, one of the few Japanese restaurants in Boston.
What does that say? (See the subject of this blog post.)

Some things that remain in mind, in no particular order:
  • incredibly generous and kind people (embodied in omotenashi, which is hard to translate into English)
  • heated beverages from ubiquitous vending machines
  • the juxtaposition of the old and new, found in the most unexpected places in the urban fabric
  • heated toilet seats, even in public restrooms
  • constant politeness in the form of "sumimasen"s and perpetual bowing
  • convenience stores that actually have tasty foods and are...well, convenient
  • impeccable attention to details, especially in the design world. and packaging.
More updates from the trip to come.