Yamanaka, Japan

I’ve been in the mountains the past couple of days seeing friends and interviewing artisans for a project that will bring me back here in December as well as find itself in an upcoming article in Travel + Leisure.

The program was long and vigorous, and included interviews of length with a wood-turner, a soba maker, a sake brewer, an innkeeper, a soba chef, a jazz club owner, a chef who runs an Italian restaurant, a rice farmer using organic methods, and a tatami mat maker.

I learned a lot, of course!  That’s how Japan is and can be: Didactic, eager to explain the multi-generations establishments, in most instances, that provide them each with a living, and a way to support their families.

Each person is swimming against the current: Globalization implies the degradation of labor and the environment, as well as the powerful exchange of ideas, and by maintaining old models of doing business, they invite challenges.  It’s exciting to be part of an effort to hold onto traditional ways of doing things, and to try to understand the non-monetized benefits of local infrastructures.

Today it’s off to Kyoto for a few nights to see friends and report on what’s happening in the city.

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