Last months I’ve been in search of tranquility. It was not easy, since the more I searched for it the farther away it seemed to be. Strangely, and I would say even magically, when I stoped pursuing tranquility in an active manner several events in my life fell just in the right place.
I can finally start feeling some kind of inner calm.
From now on I will do my best so I don’t pursue tranquillity again 😉
When someone asks me: what is the best time to visit Japan? I’m very reluctant to give a clear answer since I’ve come to realize that Japan is beautiful in different ways depending on the weather and the season. Spring tints the landscape with sakura colors. During Summer, the rainy tsuyu gives everything a mysterious atmosphere. Un Autumn, it is the kouyou what makes Japan magic. But one of the most spectacular transformation happens in Winter when the snow covers more than half of Japan’s territory.
The Japanese snow was the main inspiration when Kawabata wrote his first novel Snow Country 雪国 Yukiguni. Later, he became the first Japanese write to receive the Nobel Prize. Not only Kawabata, the change that Japanese seasons cause in the landscape of cities and the countryside, has inspired artists since centuries ago. For example, haiku poems almost always have a reference to the time of the year or weather conditions.
Snow adds chaos to the tokyoites routine, who are used to everything working perfectly. When snow falls in Tokyo train become crazy and people’s behaviour changes (not necessarily in a good way 🙂 ). When the streets are covered by snow, the city is not only transformed in a superficial, I feel that I’m transported to a different Tokyo located in a parallel dimension.
There is a street I’ve known since more than 10 years ago. Today I’m walking through it and it feels like a new place. Why? I don’t know. It might be the tree that I never notice and now with the weight of the snow is tilting towards the street. It could also be the cables with their black contrasting with the white snow.
In a crossing near Harajuku there is a vending machine that I never noticed, but now the light from it reflects in a mysterious way on the night snow carpet below it. When I keep walking farther away from the station I see snowmen, many of them are trying to imitate the shape of Ghibli’s Totoro.
In the morning I decide to go to Meiji Jingu. When I enter this shrine I feel like I have totally abandoned the city, maybe I’m inside Kawabata’s Yukiguni 雪国.
The bridge of Togetsu (In Japanese written with the characters 渡 月 橋: crossing, moon, bridge) is one of the most emblematic of Kyoto. With its 155 meters long it was first built in the 9th century to cross the Katsura River towards the mountain of Arashiyama . Although it has been rebuilt and restored several times, the current version remains in the same place as the original.
Crossing the bridge and strolling along the river bank is a pleasure enjoyed even by the emperors of ancient Japan. It was Emperor Kameyama in the 12th century who named the bridge. He was sailing with his boat at night and enraptured by the beauty of the moment he declared: “It seems that the bridge is crossing the moon.”
A local legend says: boys and girls have to cross the bridge without looking back at any time. If they ignore this rule it will bring them bad luck of not looking back. I wonder if Ghibli was inspired by this bridge to for Spirited Away but instead of not looking back you have to hold your breath.