Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Japan Spring: A Celebration of Things Old and New

A celebration of things old and new - this is the insight that made a significant mark to my mind soon after my Japan trip for eleven days. I think that it is an appropriate phrase for a sojourn to heritage places -  a symbol for things old; for a journey on spring time - a symbol for things new.

One of the most exciting part of our trip was seeing the famous cherry blossoms or sakura, especially when we are about two weeks late from the blooming season. Luckily and delightfully, we found some last cherry trees that bore flowers abundantly - pink, white and green. Every time we found one, our company swarmed around these natural beauties and take many photographs. 

I have not lived in Japan long enough, but I think that when cherry trees bloom, they are the most beautiful on earth. And when they do, they only bloom so for a certain short period. As what some romantic poets have celebrated on spring, cherry blossom is the best reminder that life is wonderful but only momentary.

Celebration of spring!

I also appreciate how Japanese people are passionate about for their culture. Japan is a testament that a country can go forward to progress without disregarding culture. Going to some of their cities, we found their ancient castles, temples and other historical landmarks exceptionally well preserved. One could see how love is written all over these old structures.

One time, we visited the quaint Kintai Bridge. I was touched about the past story behind the old bridge. I learned that locals once built protective structure around the bridge to save it from the raging typhoon one time. However, the bridge did not survive; locals tearfully watched the it get washed away by the great flood. But in a short span of time, the locals amazingly rebuilt the bridge piece by piece as a remembrance to the old heritage.

Japanese culture is also famous for the origami, the ancient art of paper folding. Japanese children learn origami early at the lap of their mothers. While some people may think it is just a plain paper folding, it actually reflects the ingenuity and aesthetics of Japanese culture. This is a unique art of living – a reminder of patience, resilience and discipline - values which are written and reflected all over Japan. 

This art forms a part of Japanese curriculum. Aside from integrating a uniquely Japanese trademark to their education, I am amazed how actually paper folding does cognitive advantages for learners. Aside from developing fine motor skills, origami is a pictorial learning through repeatable actions, and by transforming a flat piece of paper into a three dimensional crane, it is also a cognitive stimulation of spatial reasoning. Now, I wonder not why Japanese are very good in mathematics and science!

While they have proved their world leadership when it comes to technology and economy, I am amazed as well to know that they have maintained their communion with nature. I think that Japanese people are one of the few most passionate people about living with nature as we all are from nature and forever interconnected to nature.

Visiting some cities, I marveled at how organized are the spaces. Just a few kilometers from the urban center, one would feel like being transported to a completely different place because the outer villages still maintain their rural vibes. Trees are well taken cared and animals, like deer, turtle and bird, live in harmony with people.

This article is not enough to vicariously contain all the wonderful memories I gained but personally, Japan will always be a special place in the world being a perfect blend of heritage and progress... of environment and culture... of old and new....

Sayonara, Japan! Until I see you again!

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