Living in a foreign country exposes you to people with very different thinking, and you quickly realize there's no proper "way" to go about life.
There's no right way to dress, walk, speak or eat. There is no definitive way to sit, chew one's food, or enter someone's house. Travel liberates the soul, as this helped me re-evaluate all the negative opinions I had of myself and the world. As someone with PTSD, living in Tokyo helped me. It helped me a lot.
LEFT: A good friend, and my work manager. RIGHT: I studied the art of Japanese incense in Kyoto, and once made a perfume for a Maiko-san, a Geisha in training
Japan is Unique
The year is official "Reiwa 4" in Japan and not "2022." Each New Emperor marks the beginning of a new era, and I no longer take something as simple as "time" for granted. Different countries and religions celebrate the passing of time uniquely. Japan's "House of Yamato" is also the oldest royal family on earth and has reigned for 2700 years. It's also the largest monocultural country globally. Of 120 million people, 98% are pure-blooded Japanese, so an idea like "multiculturalism" is relatively non-existent.
I've always felt like an outsider. I dress, think, speak and act very differently. I'll probably forever remain misunderstood, and I'm perfectly ok with this. For every stressful, annoying little situation, there were several positive teaching experiences.
Working for Japanese companies taught me excellent work ethic, focus and organizational skills. I ventured to Kyoto a dozen times, and their traditional artisans illuminated a degree of artisanship, passion and attention to detail I never thought humanly possible. So yes, I am an outsider, and I always was. But with my exposure to traditional Japanese artisanship, I finally understand what it takes to make excellent art.
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Japanese Craftsmanship Informs My Creative Process
LEFT: outside a restaurant in Kyoto. RIGHT: formal lunch in Kyoto, traditional Kyoto foods are incredibly delicate, their presentation stunning