Far East, Far Out, Faraway Japan

I’ll be filing weekly pieces from Japan for Travel + Leisure commencing 26 June, as well as smaller articles for these estimable folks in OZ: http://karryon.com.au.  I return to Japan tomorrow: 16th visit, 3rd in six months, and no wonder:

The routine DELTA flight was $875, round trip, which is about $700 less than flying to Europe and about the same as going to California, all from the East Coast.  Plus, the $ is now equal to 120-125 Yen, up 20-25% from 18 months ago.  Which means, no kidding, it’s cheaper to eat and sleep in Japan than most major Western cities.

What I find endlessly perplexing and fascinating about the country is its hybridization, which is such a wonderful, ironic counterpoint to its presumed singularity and grave sense of being a mono-culture.  That all translates into a vibe of profound, restless, and almost constant anxiety: In the streets, bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels, and homes.

The anxiety spurs a desire for improvisation and an elusive hope, but more often it results in withdrawal, sadness, and acceptance.

For a writer, no place is more stimulating.


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