For aspiring minimalists Japan is an interesting contradiction.
We started our trip in Tokyo and from the moment we arrived we were bombarded with adverts shouting ‘BUY!’ as you cross the road. It’s a place of shopping meccas, where electrical goods are piled high and you can buy items that I hadn’t even dreamed of – check out the picture below of some sort of eye exercise machine (presumably to keep wrinkles at bay).
Then we moved through the country (Mount Fuji, Kyoto, Nara and into Koyasan for those that are interested). In Koyasan we stayed for two nights in a Buddhist monastery and witnessed the absolute opposite side of Japan, one built on the beauty of simplicity and the foundations of just enough, not excess.
It has been an interesting experience so far and both parts of the trip have given us food for thought on exactly how we want our lives to be. The consumerism of Tokyo was great to see, it’s such an incredible spectacle but neither of us felt the need to be part of that side of Japanese society. In previous lives we’d have jumped in head first at the prospect of spending money on gadgets and gizmos we didn’t need.
However, the simplicity of the ryokans (traditional inns) that we have stayed in, the easy-going way of life, and even the focus on natural food has all had an impact on us both.
There are lots of ideas that we will take back from this trip already and we still have a week to go – I’m interested to see where this beautiful country will take us next.