Exploring what it means to be alive
Going through these photos brings back all the memories, the people we met, the places we went to, the ideas and words we exchanged, everything we experienced over these two months in Japan. Little did I know how strong and powerful this once-in-a-lifetime trip would be.
Japan. Try this, tell anyone “Japan” and you would get so many ideas, notions, concepts, images – sometimes true to the point, sometimes so far from the truth.
So what does this name evoke for me?
First of all this trip was not for holidays, go to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, get lost in translation, enjoy the food, drink a bit of sake on the way, visit some of the world-famous shrines in Kyoto, enjoy Dōtonbori at night.
No, this was something else, something that reduced some people we met to tears. We were there to celebrate Japan, three years after one of the biggest catastrophes this country has been through.
I will not flay these wounds again, nor revisit the atrophied past. We have all seen the videos, the photos, the interviews, and we all know what is still going on there.
Or do we?
What is going on there? How can one understand, or even relate, to what the Japanese have had to endure for so many centuries?
Meeting one of our good friends who lives in Tokyo the day before we left somehow brought things into perspective.
"I know the big one is coming here, I know that each day brings it closer and closer, but I want to believe that I will be lucky to survive no matter what."
Imagine waking everyday with that thought at the back of your mind. Imagine that whenever the earth starts shaking – and remember this is Japan we are talking about, it happens a lot – it might be it.
We just cannot. Only a Japanese, whose ancestors had to go through it over and over again, can live with that. It is part of them. It is in their cultural heritage, in their psyche, at the core of their being.
With these photos I want you to taste and feel a little bit what Japan is to me, what the people we met there look like, how beautiful and majestic nature is and also how deeply connected their culture is to the environment they live in no matter how lethal it can be.
Being back in France for three weeks now I cannot help but feel this bond, this connection with Japan and her people, even though I will always remain a gaijin, a person from the outside. I want to go back there and, yes, I want to visit our many friends in Tokyo and all over the country. Japan has become my second home.
Where is yours?