Though the Japanese still lead in the post-modern pop art movement, simply taking a Japanese bullet train through the countryside and small cities made me realize just how iconic Japanese culture is, even in the United States. One art critic called Japanese culture the only post-modern culture that rivals that of the entire conglomeration of westernization.
Take this view:
A monumentous backdrop of mammouth factories and deposits, fenced off and set against Japanese style wooden houses that could ignite in an instant.
This view from the Kyoto train station before boarding:
The subtle colors of sprawling industry that moved as they say like “a dragon” in the 1970s, an economic miracle from a place of very limited resources. Like Korea, they squeezed their power from every hard-working Japanese person they could find.
And yet while on a Japanese bullet train, the most frequent sights weren’t factories, buildings or lights…but Japanese ancestrial graves. Tons of them pervading the countryside as common and clustered as herds of cattle in the American mid-west.
As well as funerary hills, from a train or taxi we could spot frequent shrines, perhaps five times as many as we see driving through Korea (partly Japan’s fault for that), as well as castle’s peeking through brush:
When we weren’t on the road we were sleeping in Japanese saunas, or traditional houses with public bathrooms and mats such as this:
On the way back we took a BEETLE Ferry, which is a boat that skis on the water like an ice-skater:
Anyways, it was heavy.
The entire time we were in Japan, Cam’s Korean girlfriend would continue to repeat: “Japan isn’t better than Korea, right?” So we would tell her how rude Japanese people were, though they are so kind and only being polite, or we would tell her how dirty it was, though it had the cleanest cities I have ever walked through, or we would talk about how dangerous it felt there, though walking to the motel drunk at three a.m., random people helped guide us back to the motel.
I feel like Quentin Compson anytime I talk about Japan in Korea, like I can’t help but think what I do and say what I really don’t mean…
“No…I’m not one of those Americans who falls in love with Japan after a couple of visits. Really, I don’t love Japan–I don’t LOVE Japan!”