In a few hours, I’ll be flying directly to Narita, which is something I haven’t done in many years. Normally, I change planes to get to Japan.
I like the long flight, dozing and reading and watching a movie or two.
I’ve had Japan on the mind for many years, since I was a teenager. Channel 13 in NYC ran a series of movies by famous directors. I was twelve when I saw, “Rashomon,” and I loved the idea of narratives being true and untrue. It kind of fit home life.
From there I read , “Snow Country,” by Tanizaki. Then a couple of novels by Mishima as well as a biography of him by Henry Scott-Stokes.
I let it go in college. But in graduate school, I wrote my doctoral thesis on the psychological effects of the nuclear threat, which led to reading a lot about Hiroshima. Robert Jay Lifton was on my committee.
Much more recently, I’ve been to Japan 22 times, starting in 2002, and have tried to understand the complexities. I prize the silence. I especially love the concept: aun no kokyu–“breathing in harmony.”
The work continues, and there is much to learn, embrace, and accept.