Old and New

1 Aug

Today, I caught my first glimpse of Mount Fuji as we were exiting Tokyo on our way to the distant hot spring resort in Takayama. It was so amazing and breathtaking.  Words can’t properly describe just how beautiful it was.  It emerged from the mists in the distance, visible and clear for everyone to see as we exited the metal and concrete jungle that is Tokyo. For a moment, the bus went quiet in awe as we took in its majesty. The striking dichotomy between urban Tokyo and the unrestricted forests and mountaintops was so clear and triumphant and I couldn’t help but think that yes, this is what Japan is all about.

I have only been here a day and a half, but already I feel as though I’m being treated to little glimpses of this uniquely Japanese mentality and experience. Within this tiny island nation, people from all walks of life seem blended together in a stew further enriched by the differences we all share with each other. I’ve heard French and German as well as Japanese spoken around me and everything seems to always be moving. It’s hard not to feel a little shell-shocked by it all.

Those things that are immobile seem to be as ancient as time itself. Sturdy Japanese pine trees reach up to the sky on either side of the road to Takayama and are equally majestic and breathtaking. Alongside these trees, the road stretches lazily on and I am hard pressed to find the seems that glue the two worlds, modern and ancient together. I’m sure once I get to Tokyo it will be much the same; the gentle merging of old and new.

I hope that at the end of this program others will also be able to see in me this same seamless blending of old and new.  The old me that left the United States just a few days ago, and the new me that will hopefully emerge from Japan changed for the better. Already, I feel this evolution taking root, and I can’t wait to see where it will take me.

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