What Japan Taught Me About Life

Life is fragile, but beautiful, just like the cherry blossoms

Before I went to Japan I was listening to a Pico Iyer podcast about the transformative nature of travel. He spoke about the power of coming home from a trip and turning ‘seeing the sights’ into insights. Inspired by his words, I was so excited to see what I could learn in Tokyo, the world’s largest urban metropolis and home to over 38 million people.

  1. Go with the flow — things happen smoothly when you don’t force them. Everyone in the streets and subways just moved with the sea of people. And they got to where they were going. In Melbourne we are pushing and moving in a million different directions, but with the same results.
  2. The past holds answers — ancient traditions are honoured and celebrated in Japan. Temples are shrines are equally popular with both tourists and locals and there is an amazing respect for honouring rituals from centuries ago. We can learn a lot from the past, and from the lessons of history. It pays to remember to look back, before we go forward.
  3. Mindful beings — people seem so accustomed to coexisting with millions of others, that they are very conscious of other people’s space and time. No-one litters, no-one raises their voice in public, and everyone is incredibly gracious and apologetic if they accidentally get in your way. The manners are impeccable and it creates such an amazing atmosphere.
  4. Focus on one thing, and do it well — many places have just one speciality, and absolutely ace that thing. I think we’re all becoming generalists, at the expense of really mastering something. There is something really special about devoting your life to something and sharing that devotion with the world.
  5. Everything and everyone has a purpose — you often hear about the Japanese concept of ikigaii, or knowing your meaning in life. It is incredible being immersed in such a purposeful culture. We are all here for a reason, and we should spend our lives working it out.
  6. Life is fragile, but beautiful — just like the cherry blossoms. Sakura season only lasts for a fleeting moment, and it’s a poignant, pastel reminder, that life is very short for us too. Don’t get so caught up that you forget to stop and smell the cherry blossoms.

Adventures of a metaphysical girl in a material world. Instagram @21xseven

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