A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I sought solace in Tokyo for a few days. He craved sushi; I, shopping. So we quickly escaped Seoul’s sweltering heat plague and jumped on the next flight. Aside from sushi & shopping, it turned out to be a surprisingly philosophical journey. Tokyo is such a charming city. Everything about the bustling urban noise somehow ends on a lovely octave easing to the ears. Every corner is a different storyboard, but cozily and uniformly nested altogether. Even if you step into an enormous restaurant filled with garrulous chatterers, it’s hushed. Representative of their culture, perhaps, no one does anything out of the ordinary — not even speaking loudly.
Interestingly, Japan is not as advanced in technology and infrastructure as it used to be a decade ago. You can tell that it sort of plateaued and not a lot of innovation emerged since the rest of the world caught up with them. Signs were a bit rusty, buildings a bit archaic-monochromatic. But I was awed by how flawlessly clean and organized everything still was. I told my husband that the city was like a grandmother’s prized golden trinket: very old and sacredly kept away but taken out diligently to keep polished.
Maybe my emotional acuteness heightened from reading Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life leading up to our trip. Despite what society says about life being short, Seneca’s philosophy screamed the very opposite. And I absolutely loved it! Life is not short (amen!). Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. The point is, the trip to Tokyo served not only as a delicious excursion but also as an opportunity to re-evaluate some details in my life. Sometimes, the only way to know what’s blessing or missing at home is to travel away from home, only to return with a collection of insightful realizations. And sometimes, these realizations can act as a kick to not be so idle in life. I’ve been to Tokyo plenty of times, but this trip again reminded me that travel, like books, interprets freshly each time it’s experienced at a different stage in life…
By the way, Penguin Book’s Great Ideas has an amazing collection with pieces from the world’s greatest writers, philosophers, and leaders whose works continue to change the world today. Plus, the uniquely designed print press covers look so pretty on the nightstand! Happy reading!