I received this email from my Norwegian friend SK who has just spent a few days in Tokyo. His enthusiasm for the place is infectious. I felt I had to share.
Just returned from 8 days and nights in Tokyo that were nothing less than life-altering. I had until now resigned myself to the fact that Scandinavia, or Holland, pretty much was as good as it's gonna get in terms of organizing functioning societies. But Tokyo/Japan blew me away - an experience which now leaves me with the ambivalent knowledge that we can all do much better, that there is no excuse.... and that perfection is within the human capacity. The next time Japan wants to take over the world, I say we let 'em - just give them the keys and no one gets hurt. Except our bank account, but what else is new...
I am a new man, in no small part because I've never eaten better or more over a week-long period than this last week. (Spent a day in Kyoto too, but found it too full of tourists to really appreciate. I suppose everyone read the same 'if you just have one day in Kyoto' page in the guidebook.) But Tokyo - gosh darn it!! Of course the global meltdown in all things financial has - I couldn't begin to want to understand - sent the yen up to 1980 levels, which meant that my $275 hotel room ended up being a $425 hotel room, and my government-mandated festival per diem took an equally unpleasant hit. But if you're gonna overdraw your bankcard anywhere, it'd better be there. They even park their bicycles in an exquisitely aesthetic fashion - just so. An entire society built on the bento box concept - if mankind has a future, it's this; I have not been annoyed at anyone for 9 days, certainly a new personal record for me. It took me less than 15 minutes to return to my usual grumpy self when landing at LAX, but I can still call on the inner peace brought on by umbrella condoms and deep bowing. I marveled at everything - including the chic outfits of construction workers, and how they cover up any building site in clean, lovely cloths so that not a speck of dirt may soil your fashionable clothes. It's like watching ants! Except they don't pee on you - although their toilets had buttons that delighted Anna to no end.
Anyway. Just felt like sharing, given your own enthusiasm for Tokyo. Am now trying to conceive of ways to return there as soon as possible - certainly, it won't be on my festival's dime, as I've broken every expense record in history at this point. In fact, the expense report I just submitted will ensure me legendary status among my colleagues even if they fire me at the same time; I know entire film festivals have been put on for less than I've gone through this last week. (I'd do it again, too, but they're not gonna let me.)