Thursday, March 08, 2007

Japan Love Letter. Part 1.

I spent last week in Japan; slept the first night in Osaka after landing in Kansai Airport, moved on to Tokushima for a conference, finished off with an afternoon and evening in Kyoto with friends before taking the train back to Osaka/Kansai for the flight home the next morning. I'd intended to blog every day there, but somehow it never happened. So here is a bit of retrospective appreciation.

I love Japan; mix one part Zen, one part Loony Tunes, one way or another it seems like a surprise is waiting around every corner. I already knew about the toilets, but it's been a while, and what really got my attention the first night in Osaka were the warnings on the cover about the potential dangers of electrocution or fire if I splashed water or urinated on the console. Further down there was another caution about the possibility of low temperature burns. I wondered if this meant burns like you get from holding dry ice too long or just having the backs of my thighs slightly parboiled. I thought the safest thing would be to sit down but only after turning off the heater in the seat. I decided against activating the wash functions so there would be no chance of mixing up the front and back water jets, or setting the pressure too high, in either of which case I might get the console wet and electrocute myself.

This comes from the same culture that built the Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji, see my touristy photo below) in Kyoto. Twice. (It was burned down completely in 1950 by a 21 year old monk who wished to die in its flames - he didn't - and it had to be rebuilt.) Well, it's worth remembering that Zen and Looney Tunes are not incompatible states of mind. More later.