Learning a foreign country and culture, while travelling has its limits. If you do not spend some longer time in a foreign country, living there on a daily basis with constant contact with locals, you will never know a country well. Many expatriates claim that even after years spent abroad they over and over live through smaller and bigger culture shock. But still, if you have your eyes open while traveling, you may at least have a grasp of those petty things around you.
Our two weeks Japan journey was not an exception. Day by day, we saw those petty things around us and it was a constant learning process. This chapter of my Japan diaries 2.0 is about those petty things that turned to be of quite an importance.
A like AESTHETICS
Japanese are very aesthetic and clean people. No matter whether we talk gardens, public transport, inside of the houses, clothing or personal hygiene. You do not see any devastation in the streets, people do not smell around, you can easily find a restroom everywhere. If you are in a hotel you have all possible cosmetics in big quantities around you, always a single use shaver and toothbrush with a small toothpaste tube. In that respect Japan is a very comfortable country to visit.
C like CARP
Carps (fish art) are considered as symbolic in the Japanese culture. In Japanese carp means ‘koi’. The carp is capable of moving up-stream, thus it is a symbol of perseverance and strength. Altogether it symbolises good fortune and prosperity. Walking around Japanese gardens, you will often finds ponds (lakes) with carps inside. Besides darker ones, you will notice orange (gold) carps.
J like JUNIHITOE
Jūnihitoe is the most elegant kind of kimono. It consists of 12 twelve layers of silk garments (hence its name ‘a twelve-layer robe’). The colours of layers depend (or rather depended in the past) on the woman’s position. A junihitoe may weight up to 20 kg. Today, only members of the imperial house wear jūnihitoe on very important occasions. On the photo Saiō-Dai dressed in jūnihitoe. Seen during the Aoi Matsuri Festival in Kyoto.
K like KOINOBORI
Koinobori may be taken for just a fancy street decoration. At the first sight you do not expect that those colorful windsocks lay deep in the Japanese tradition. Koinobori have a shape of a carp, a national symbol. The carp is capable of moving up-stream, thus it is a symbol of perseverance and strength. Koinobori displayed around a house, tell you how many family members live inside, sizes and colours will tell you, who they are.
S like SAKE
Sake is the traditional Japanese rice wine. Unlike typical wine, sake is produced in the brewing process (and not by fermentation). Sake may be drunk either cold or hot (warm). To serve (cold) sake traditional way you were first put glasses into small boxes. Then you richly pour sake into glasses so it overruns the glass edge. First you are supposed to drink that what is inside the glass, then you drink sake that overran, either directly from the box or from the glass after pouring it back into it.
Of other Japanese alcoholic beverages we tried in Japan were the Japanese beers (most popular), shochu (a kind of vodka made of rice), umeshu (plum wine) and Japanese whiskeyy.
R like ROCK GARDEN
A rock garden is a kind of Japanese garden that besides other Japanese garden attributes uses gravel or sand that is raked to represent ripples in water. A rock garden is otherwise called a Zen garden, as it usually serves meditation purposes. The sand or gravel patterns may be found in gardens surrounding Buddhist or Shinto temple complexes.
Other common features of Japanese gardens are arrangements of rocks, water features, moss (with no grass on it), pruned trees and bushes (see: a gallery on Kenroku-en, a great Japanese garden in Kanazawa >>>).
to be continued …
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