Planet Japan: The Debriefing Begins

The flight from Chicago to Narita: Uneventful but for two people, seated in the bulkhead, who were bumped to First, which led to our occupation of their former places in the bulkhead.  Legroom, sleep.

After leaving Narita Airport, we checked into Park Hyatt Tokyo.  Easily my favorite hotel in the world as it embodies the concept of a hotel as a world unto itself.  You could live here and never explore the city around it, and be just fine. Besides the views of Tokyo…but wait.  The views.  Our room, on the 49th Floor, was of an urban landscape that resembled a man-made forest.  The 52nd Floor, where the bar & Grill are, has floor to ceiling windows in four directions.  As a person for whom architecture is the one visual art form I respond to emotionally, this was deeply sensual.

A gin Martini, hamachi, and rare Japanese beef followed.

Oh, and prior to all that: A swim in the hotel’s spa area.  Oh, and, yes: I was a guest of the property.  Full disclosure, pip, pip.

A brief word on Japanese consciousness before closing out Day One: Two chief characteristics of the culture that inform the consciousness of Japan are its Buddhist and Shinto-rooted “striving towards perfection” and the essentially narcissistic way in which people there do not differentiate between themselves and the nature that surrounds them.  At its best, this leads to refinement, perfection, and an aesthetic sense of observation nonpareil.  One of many reasons that being in Japan fills my heart and soul is that its culture is based, principally, on observation and silence.  Most of my work, nearly all of it, as a shrink and writer: Same.  I shut up, listen, and document.

I am aware, too, of the downside of “striving towards perfection” and narcissism: The Japanese suffer for their feeling of being incomplete and imperfect.  Not differentiating between Self and surroundings?  An empty place within as the completion comes from outside the Self.

Day Two: Shinkansen, Yuki, & Kaiseki, hai!

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