28 things I love about Japan


  1. Bronze eyed pigeons, feet pink as crab shells
  2. Rooms measured by tatami mats that smell warm and toasted like just-cleaned stables
  3. The Harajuku Kawaii! Food Court Mall
  4. Clouds that ripple and texture like washi paper
  5. The clean feeling of cycling Nara’s streets in the rain
  6. The view from Kansai International Airport of far-away buildings that dissolve into the warm November sea like a line of smudged chalk
  7. Ferns in the forest that twist like geckos’ tails
  8. The herons and koi and wading fishermen of every river
  9. Pink roses wrapped tight
  10. Talking to people from all over the world around a table in a century-old tea master’s home-turned-guesthouse in Nara. An artist who shows me how to write “ocean” in Japanese. A Swiss girl so young she has the energy to visit seven Japanese cities in seven days. A Colombian in a beautiful Sri Lankan dress. A Catalan book editor. A retired Japanese docent now living in Washington, D.C.
  11. Spider webs sticky and orange, like juice concentrate that’s been left sitting with the lid left off
  12. Gasps of light tearing through bamboo forests
  13. Babies in kimonos
  14. Adults in kimonos
  15. Muscle-legged boys in hot pants rickshaw-ing couples around Kyoto’s temples
  16. The hot foot tingle of a day spent stomping around Tokyo
  17. A man in white cropped trousers and t-shirt smoking a cigarette outside Sensō-ji in the middle of Tokyo while his pet pig gets photographed by schoolgirls
  18. Pavements smashed with fallen plum and persimmon
  19. Allotments everywhere
  20. Pickled plums that look like shrivelled balls
  21. Sesame dressing
  22. Thatched roofs
  23. All the moss
  24. All the mushrooms
  25. Drains where wild orchids grow
  26. Wild boar in temple forests
  27. Bamboo vibrating in the wind like violin strings being pulled tight
  28. The wide-legged, soft cardiganned silhouettes of so many young women



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