Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Slow life


When I left New Zealand I had rings under my eyes. Sorry Wellington I love you, but you really wore me out. Six years in the wind and the rain left me tired. Life was so busy and I took pride in everything I was achieving even if my mental health was suffering slightly. 

When I came to Japan I couldn't believe how hard everyone worked. My co workers come in at 8am and leave at 8pm. They looked tired. They don't take weekends. Inexplicably I have been granted some kind of magical gaijin (foreigner) pass which means I leave the office at 4.30pm every day and everyone thinks this is okay.

Despite my co workers hard working tendencies I have noticed a trend in Japanese culture that promotes a slow life. My favourite Japanese magazine is ku nel. This loosely translates to eating/sleeping. The magazine has a fat blobby tellytub like mascot who languidly lounges across the pages. He is full of food and ready for a nap. The fat blobby mascot wouldn't like gossip magazines, hair straighteners or energy drinks . He would say 'eat and sleep instead!'

The slow culture goes against everything we are supposed to do in our fast paced lives, especially the pace of Asian modern life. The slow culture tells us to savour the food we eat and never be hungry, to smell the flowers, pot a plant, listen to music, sleep for as long as we want and take a bath. Most importantly, don't be tired, be happy. 

The film Megane or Glasses has a complete devotion to the slow pace culture with the main character escaping city life to encounter a holiday of eating, serene surroundings and a strange yoga like poses on the beach. Very little happens in the movie, but I think that's okay. Nothing has to happen. It's a refreshing to take a break all the same.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I love books like Into the Wild and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Protagonists who search deep within themselves to find answers to questions that have riddled them for years. It's a great thing to explore this big wide world and ask 'what is all of this?' all the while holding tightly to your ability to imagine and experience awe. This doesn't mean you have to have lots of money to travel all around the world, just explore further than your front gate, your street, your suburb. And at very worse, if you can't leave, step into your imagination. I love this quote by Chris McCandless about the pitfalls of exploration and the stifling of mans adventurous spirit.

"So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."