30 things I've learned in 30 years

Last February I celebrated my 30th birthday. In Japan when you are 30 years old you are entering the 三十路 (MISOJI) “The thirties way”. During these 30 years I have learned, unlearned and relearned many things like just everybody else.

Below, 30 things that I think I have learned during my way to the thirties, lessons that I learned during 22 years in Spain, 8 years in Japan and traveling around the world. Many of these lessons were taught by my family, my teachers, my work, my friends and all those wonderful women that conquered my hearth at some point in my life, thanks to all of you!

1.- Don’t criticize anybody, it is useless. Instead of criticizing weak point of somebody, focus on the strong points.

2.- Don’t be afraid of change, it is unavoidable. Learn how to surf the waves of your life, and enjoy every moment of it.

3.- Experience gives you perspective, calm and helps you prioritize the things that really matter. However, sometimes it is good to ignore your “experience” and hear your intuition.

4.- We usually overestimate what we can achieve in 1 year but we underestimate what we can achieve in 10.

5.- You don’t have to understand, learn or unlearn love, you just have to feel it.

6.- Don’t rush yourself but take a step every day, even if it is a small step. Enjoy it as it was your last one.

7.- When you feel like doing “the right thing” is not the best… break the rules!

8.- TIME is much more important than MONEY

9.- Make mistakes! It’s the best way to learn. But try not to make the same mistakes more than once.

10.- When you make a mistake assume your responsibility, apologize, say you are sorry.

11.- Don’t make promises to many people at the same time. Learn how to say NO.

12.- Don’t force other people to do something, inspire them and wait.

13.- When you fall, stand back up, the faster the better.

14.- The most difficult “problems” in life are not going to be solved no matter how much you think about them.

15.- Choosing between different options, between different paths, is one of the most difficult things in life. Sometimes there’s not a good option and a bad option, or a better option or worse, but sooner or later YOU HAVE TO DECIDE.

16.- It is better to love and lose, that never have loved and wonder how could it have been.

17.- Things that now seem very stressing-important for you, will look like silly things in the future.

18.- Be flexible, adaptable and able to recover with even more strength, like bamboo.

19.- The most important thing is not the place where you live but the people around you that you share your life with. Take care of them as much as you can.

20.- Do you live to work or do you work to live? Work is an important part of life, I enjoy it and makes me happy.

21.- Be patient, honest, humble (you are just one of more than 7,000 million people), curious, sincere, kind, careful, respectful.

22.- Perseverance is one of the things that has given me better results in life, be patient and enjoy the process more than the results, which will take some years to arrive.

23.- To regret something you did in the past is useless, at some point in your life that’s what you wanted. If you sometimes regret something, it should be for something that you didn’t do, but not for something that you did. Do it before it’s too late!

24.- Giving is MUCH more important than receiving.

25.- Don’t be afraid.

26.- Start now! Don’t procrastinate. Usually the first step is the most difficult one.

27.- At the end everything will be memories. Create good memories!

28.- Practice some sport. Exercise!

29.- Travel!

30.- You still don’t know what to do with your life? It’s ok, I also don’t. Don’t worry be happy, and remember wear sunscreen

What have you learned until now?

8

Nokogiriyama – 鋸山

A couple of weeks ago, on Saturday, a group of “adventurers” decided to visit the largest Buddha statue in Japan. We set out at 7:00am from Shinagawa station on our way to Kurihama.

Nokogiriyama
On our way to Kurihama.

Nokogiriyama - B&w period

From Kurihama station we walked towards the port and around 9:30am we boarded the “Kanaya Maru”, the boat that took us to the other side of the bay in half an hour.

Nokogiriyama
Leaving the coast of Yokohama on our way to the coast of Chiba.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama - B&w period
One of the masts of Kanaya Maru.

Nokogiriyama - B&w period
At that time in the morning the bay was full of boats.

Nokogiriyama - B&w period
Group photo on board of the Kanaya Maru.

Around 10:00am we arrived to the port of a small village called Kanaya (金谷: money valley). Our instinct took us to a Chinese restaurant near the port where we recharged our energies. With a full belly we set out to go to Nokogiriyama mountain. We walked along the shoulder of the road that followed the coastline. The houses in Kanaya are cluttered in the little space that is left between the sea and the Nokogiriyama forests.

Nokogiriyama - B&w period

It’s not a very popular place for tourists, so there are not many signs. It took us a long time to find the head of the trail that had to take us to the summit.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

The hike was quite easy, the trails were clear and there were even stairs in some areas.

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

Nokogiriyama

山登り、hiking

We crossed the forest until we bumped into some mysterious rock walls.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama
Great picture taken by Ikusuki from a cliff. We are those pixels down there that don’t match with the landscape.

The walls, which looked artificial and natural at the same time; the huge trees in the forest and the continuous drizzle and some traces of human activity reminded us of the TV Show Lost.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

It turns out that it was a quarry that was active during the Edo era (until just 150 years ago); that’s the explanation for the mysterious shape of the walls. We tried to advance a little bit more but we arrived to an area without an exit, we were surrounded by rock walls and forest. We couldn’t advance any more towards Nokogoriyama’s summit.

Nokogiriyama

We traced back our steps until the last bifurcation we had passed by. We started walking the other trail which brought us through a narrow crack in the mountain. Crossing that crack we found a Buddha image engraved in one of the walls.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama - B&w period

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

After resting some minutes in front of the Buddha we marched on towards the summit, which was only 5 minutes away.

Nokogiriyama
This cliff is called Jigoku-nozoki (Peering into hell) and is 380 meters above sea level.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama - B&w period

Nokogiriyama

If you are lucky and the weather conditions are good, you can see Mount Fuji on the horizon; in our case it was cloudy so we couldn’t spot it. However we enjoyed amazing views of Tokyo bay and the fabulous forests we just had crossed.

Now we just had to enter Nihonji temple, which is on the other side of the mountain, where you can find the biggest Buddha in Japan. Todai-ji is not the biggest one, and neither the one in Kamakura. This Buddha inside Nokogiri-yama is the biggest one. It is a representation of Yakushi Nyorai and it is 31 meters tall, more than double the size of Todai-ji in Nara.

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period
We could enjoy the visit with almost no tourists.

According to a leaflet we were given, it was built in 1783, after 3 years of hard work of 28 Buddhist monks. The Buddha statue represents “The universe inside the lotus flower world” and was built as a symbol of world peace and tranquility. I don’t know if it was how tired we were or the tranquility that Buddha transmitted us, but most of our group decided to take a small nap in front of him.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

We regained our forces and headed back home. We came back using another trail that allowed us to see 1500 “Tokai Arhats” (Buddha disciples) statues, each one of them has a unique face, and although a little bit scary, they are supposed to represent a “benevolence spirit”. They were sculpted by the same 28 monks that created the great statue of Buddha.

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

A marvelous place, an unforgettable day. I can’t believe we didn’t know about this place if it is so close to Tokyo! It was my friend CaDs who suggested the day trip, he learned about the existence of Nokogiriyama because he had been using a parser library for Ruby called Nokogiri. I have the feeling that this will not be my last time climbing Nokogiriyama.

6

Insomnia – 不眠症

This is a series of photographs I took around the alleys in my neighborhood one day I couldn’t sleep. I tried to play a little bit with the night lights and the reflections of the rain. I used a Nikon D90 with Sigma 30mm, almost always at F1.4 and ISOs above 1000.

不眠症

不眠症

不眠症

不眠症

不眠症

不眠症

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.

不眠症

不眠症

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不眠症

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不眠症

不眠症

不眠症

不眠症

不眠症

不眠症

不眠症

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Estamos en época de lluvias

1

Ofuro – お風呂

Ofuro or furo (traditional Japanese bath) is a really deep seated tradition in Japan that has carried on until today. The Japanese routine entails showering at night right before going to bed. After a shower, Japanese people get into a bathtub full of really hot water (approximately 45 ºC / 110 ºF) for a few minutes. They say it’s a very healthy habit to take a bath in such hot water right before bed.

First you have to scrub while sitting on a plastic stool. You don’t use a sponge for scrubbing, but some sort of special “rag”. In order to rinse, you pour water in some sort of vat and then pour it on yourself using some kind of bowl.

Ofuro bowls
Bowls

Ofuro
After scrubbing yourself clean, you can get into the bathtub (ofuro) to relax.

Ofuro
It reminds me a lot of Ranma

If you travel to Japan and want to enjoy this experience, look for public baths (sento). They are a very common sight in Japan and some of them are very well equipped with ofuro, jacuzzi, sauna, gym, a video room, a cybercafé… all in the same premises. Apparently there are also mixed-sex sento, but those are more complicated to find.

2

Yodobashi Camera song

Yodobashi Camera is one of the largest discount home electronics chain stores in Japan. After visiting a Yodobashi Camera store one of the things that you remember from the store is the atmosphere music. The original melody is catchy, sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it… mostly when you are more than 10 minutes inside the store and it is played more than 10 times!

These are the lyrics of the song:

♪丸いみんなのの山手線 真ん中通るは中央線 新宿西口駅の前 カメラはヨドバシカメラ
 ♪若者集まる新宿に うれしいカメラの店がある ビデオも時計もそろってる ビデオもヨドバシカメラ
 ♪新宿西口駅前に 大きなカメラの店がある パソコンワープロそろってる ゲームもヨドバシカメラ
 ♪よいママよいパパよい家族 電化製品 そろってる いつでもみんなの合言葉 家電もヨドバシカメラ

My quite free translation:
♪ The Yamanote line goes around in circles, the Chuo line cuts it in the middle, in the west exit of Shinjuku, there it is: Yodobashi Camera!
 ♪ In Shinjuku, where young people meet, there is a happy camera shop, there are also video cameras and watches in Yodobashi Camera!
 ♪ In the west exit of Shinjuku, there is a big camera store, there are also word-processors, there are also video games in Yodobashi Camera
 ♪ Good mothers, good fathers, good families, we have home appliances, that is our philosophy/motto, home appliances also in Yodobashi Camera

It turns out that the first Yodobashi Camera store opened in Nishi Shinjuku (West Shinjuku) in 1975, before that it was a simple camera shop located in the north of Shibuya. Nowadays there are 21 stores around different cities in Japan, among them the largest home electronics mall in the world.


Video with the most recent version of the Yodobashi Camera song.

A couple of photos of the first Yodobashi Camera, the one in the west exit of Shinjuku. It is the store that I usually go to.

Yodobashi Camera

ヨドバシカメラ

3

Visiting tourist sights with Google Street View

Google has done an amazing job and has taken its cameras (not only on top of its cars) to tourist places around Japan and has integrated the images into Google Street View. You can visit some of these places in this site where the most interesting ones have been selected. In the menu with photos on top you can choose the general place and then in the vertical menu on the left you can choose a specific monument or tourist attraction/sight. The navigation is the same as in Google Street View, using the mouse or the arrow keys to move and A, D, W, S keys to change the perspective.

Street View
Walk around this temple

1

Daily Yamanote Moment

Ikusuki’s scooter and my bicycle broke down, better said, we broke them down; so we had to go to work every day by train for a while. We both used the Yamanote line, which every morning is so packed that it makes you feel like you are inside a sardine can. Ikusuki started to take a daily picture inside or outside the train and called it the “Daily Yamanote Moment”, I liked the idea and I started taking some “Daily Yamanote Moment” photos as well. These are some of the pictures that we took:

#mydailyyamanotemoment low compression

#vidasparalelas @ikusuki style

Waiting for the next Yamanote train

Going back home, 帰ります #dailyyamanote

@ikusuki style #sardinastyle #dailyyamanotemoment #sinbici

Se me pinchó una rueda. Gente saliendo de la Yamanote #dailyyamanote

4

Visiting Japan this Summer

Many of you have written to me asking if I recommend traveling to Japan this Summer or if it’s better to wait for a while after what happened last March 11th.

My answer in one sentence: “There’s no reason to worry, all the areas that are interesting for tourists are back to normal”.

  • All the trains in the country are already working. Even those that run through the most affected areas.
  • Sendai airport, which was destroyed by the tsunami, is running again.
  • Opening hours for museums, temples and tourist attractions are the same like before the catastrophe.
  • Except some smaller roads in the affected areas near the coast of Tohoku, the rest of infrastructures are up and running smoothly.
  • Cell phone coverage arrives to almost every place in Tohoku.
  • Almost all the food factories that stopped their production after the earthquake are back at work like before. In Tokyo we don’t see empty shelves at the supermarkets anymore.
  • It seems like TEPCO is sure that there will be no electricity shortages during this Summer
  • Radiation levels are back to normal except in the restricted areas around Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

The only inconveniences caused by the catastrophe of last March that you might encounter if you come this Summer are:

  • Maybe you will find some streets that are darker because of the energy saving measures taken.
  • You will not be able to visit areas within a 30 km radius from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Although, to my knowledge, there’s not much of interest around the area.
  • If you plan on visiting the coast of Tohoku you will find everything devastated. However you can always volunteer for reconstruction tasks.

I hope that if you were doubtful about coming to Japan I’ve helped you; here and here you have some general advice on traveling to Japan.

5

Azumi

Azumi is a 2003 Japanese movie directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. The action in this movie takes place right after the great Sekigahara battle.

Sekigahara battle is one of the most prominent events in Japanese history. It took place on September 15, 1600, when Tokugawa Ieyasu’s forces defeated shogun (governor) Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s men. From that battle on, the Tokugawa family held military power over the Japanese territory until 1866. For more than 250 years, Japan was controlled by a military regime (shogunate) and was totally closed to relations, commerce or contact with any foreign country.

Tokugawa en Sekigahara
Tokugawa Ieyasu’s forces during the Sekigahara battle.

Azumi is set right after Tokugawa Ieyasu rises to power. A warrior trains 10 children to become assassins. Once trained, they would be used to eliminate rebel leaders who try to stop the new regime of Tokugawa Ieyasu. A lot of the elements I wrote about in my article about Bushido can be seen in this movie.

Azumi
Azumi is the strongest assassin and the main character in the movie.

Azumi

Azumi
Ninja ambush in the forest.

I really liked Azumi and I recommend it to everyone who is interested in Japan!

3