The first and only nation to be a victim of nuclear bombs and the first and only country to suffer in its flesh and in its soul, the land of the rising sun has got up, as it had always done in the past, throughout its millennium history. As it is reconstructing itself now and questioning itself in order to do better in the future and to go forward. To immortalize the worship of the samurais and the shoguns: never show its weakness, to invent again and again new technologies by taking advantage from its secular heritage.
The West, its media and its population keep on asking questions on the phlegm and the courage of the Japanese population after the shock of the unbearable images of the tsunami followed by those of the Fukushima’s power plants in fusion. The specialists get lost in guessing and can only move forward explanations by basing them on their own register of western values … What an error!
Japan did not begin to exist only on the international sphere with the samurais and the shoguns. It hasn’t got its place in the concert of nations since the emergence of its technologies and its economy. Japan is eternal. Its foundation went back up to the ancient age when it was talked of a solar disk, Amaterasu, the goddess at the origin of the foundation of the imperial dynasty.
To understand Japan and its millennium history, it would be necessary to open one’s heart, to forget one’s cultural references and one’s registers of values in order to be able to enter the unique universe made of simplicity, true friendships, a profound respect for the traditions and love. We have to look at and see Japan with our heart, not with our head!
If we take for the real Japan, or the picture of today’s Japan the Friday evening party at the center of Tokyo with young people wearing delirious costumes or comic strips characters’ clothes, it would not only be a rough error. But we would especially miss an extraordinary occasion to seize the multiple facets of a very active society, a society in perpetual evolution that never forgets its ancestral roots. Never…
Japan is unique because it is the first nation, and the only one for the moment, to make a successful synthesis, an completed alchemy between the modernity of our century and its history. Without denying anything and without no concession! Its extraordinary capacity to transform its failures into commercial or economic success has to make the western intellectuals meditate. The political leaders have neither the capacity nor the freedom of reflection on the long term, their horizons rarely exceeding the next electoral terms.
The story, doubtlessly too beautiful to be a true one, of a desperate Japanese engineer to have to depend on the American help for everything after the defeat of the Empire in the Second World War. Furious and desperate, he banged with his feet at an empty can that was going to die at the foot of the hillocks of metallic boxes which were transforming this waste ground space into a small mountain range…
– Eureka, he said to himself. Here is the solution: to make toys with these empty boxes and to resell them to the Americans!
The Japan of video games, video recorders, DVD and other cutting edge technologies, such as those of the humanoids robots or the Walkman, the indirect ancestors of today’s smart phone, had taken its roots and its revival in this unbearable frustration. And because Japan has a ceaseless will to go forward. Always. In every test, in every suffering, it had not only restarted and kept on going, but it had also invented and created new things while always respecting its past and history. Its eternal passé! And we have so much to say about its intelligence to seize quickly and exactly the importance of simple things but which later on show themselves of a vital importance for its survival as nation. And as an economic and a political surperpower.
This is the way how its electronics industry had decided to make all its television sets in only one standards: the American standards ( NTSC), North America was and still is its main market. This decision is to compare closely with that that having presided over the choice of the Secam standards in France. At the time, the official reason was: To protect our borders against the invasion of TV sets made abroad.
When we were in Japan, I particularly liked the cheerfulness and the enjoyment of the persons –a majority of them young people- going to worships’ places in family and in an almost festive atmosphere. I still remember having tears in my eyes, in spite of my own wills, when I saw a whole clan –from the grandparents to the grand children- burning incense sticks and prostrating themselves three times before going to plant them in front of a Buddha’s huge statue in Nara. It’s the biggest wooden Buddha statue in the world.
Japan is eternal. And to understand Japanese souls, we just have to study the reasons which urge the warriors or the Japanese Lords to commit hara-kiri, in the presence of a witness charged with the task of giving him the deathblow, but especially the very precise ceremonial, coded from the immemorial time, of this ultimate act of bravery.
For all these reasons, I did not stop myself from being despaired by the naivety with which the western medias, and the French’s in particular, salivated at the idea of finding a new Lady Di in Japan after the marriage of the diplomat Masako Owada with the crown prince Naruhito, on June 9th, 1993 (CF: A chacun son temps).
As far as the respect due to the user and to the taxpayers is concerned, the persons in charge of the Frenh train compagny (SNCF) and those responsible of the management of the TGV more specifically, should go to take, just once, the Shinkansen to realize the extends of what they have to do. In Japan, we are not obliged to take the first class to appreciate its (excellent) services, as on the European lines of the French company…
What I liked
The conviviality of big cities and the kindness of its population
The practical spirits of the Tour operators which transported our luggage by coach each time we had to take the Shinkansen
The family influx in temples, monasteries and other places of worship
What it is absolutely necessary to make
Spend one night in Ryokan with a thermal bath and a fine cuisine: an unforgettable experience. There are not only noodles and sushi in Japan!
To taste some Kobé’s beef meat accompanied with a local made Sake
To roam in the Takeshi Dôri and the side streets in Tokyo, nicknamed the street of the young people
To walk on the pavements of the Tohyo’s Champs-Elysées, Omote Sando, to admire the cleanliness and the civic sense of the Japanese and the tourists
To rise at the very top of the City hall of Tokyo to have an overview of the capital with the majestic Fujiyama at the horizon on a fine weather’s day
To attend the unique show in the world: the Japanese watching the falling petals of the Sakura… A delirious madness in May!
For the amateurs or introduced
The Tokyo’s fish market; a Nô show; the Tokyo’s Subway of Tokyo after 10:00 pm; the Ryokan-Ji, the Zen monastery situated in the Northwest of Kyoto, and of course to get lost in the crowded street of the Geisha girls in Kyoto!
What could be brought home
Except from the Geisha girls’ dolls, the small bowls in fine china, of six different seizes and forms in a wooden casket and sold at the tourists’ shop on the Omote Sando Avenue. An absolute beauty! A small concern however: it is necessary to carry the box by oneself aboard a plane. They are so fragile!