A journey or destination takes on life-changing status when you suddenly feel that inexplicable frisson that stirs your soul. It can be something as simple as a smile, the quality of light, or a hand carved wooden bowl, that can make you see life from a new perspective.
The country that affects me that way above all others is Japan; a hypnotic mix of rigid convention and outlandish weirdness, and the home of Zen. Japan showed me how to appreciate beauty in a single moment or a simple object - the sweet hay smell of a tatami floor; a screen door sliding open to reveal the colours of the autumn trees; the sound of tea pouring.
The Japanese understand how beauty is most clearly seen in imperfection, and more importantly they understand the transience of nature - which is why cherry blossom is the perfect symbol of the Japanese soul.
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