I still have a few more thoughts from my trip to share. Mostly over jet lag and getting adjusted to America, again. Here’s some more about Japan from a couple weeks ago:

Japan is a nation of beauty. In food, art, pottery, music, traditional architecture, and nature, everything is supposed to be beautiful. Anyone who wants to come here and serve God must love that beauty. Loving that beauty will get you close to the people you come to serve.

A couple days ago, I spent the night at a nice hotel (called a ryokan in Japanese). While there, I realized the beauty of this society.

Every part of the stay at the Ryokan was beautiful. In my room, little red teapot awaited me with green tea bags, a cup, and a dish for putting the used bags on. It all was arranged nicely on a tray. The room was arranged in classic Japanese style, with straw mats for the flooring material and a low table surrounded by legless chairs:

Hotels in Japan give you free yukatas (robes) to use for the duration of your stay. They’re thin, comfortable, and look pretty nice. You also get a complementary pair of slippers to wear around for the duration of your stay. Yes, I have pictures:

After arriving, I made myself some of that tea and watched the wind blow the leaves down from the autumn-faded hillsides. The tea didn’t taste that great, but if I was going to stay a night in a ryokan, you can be darn well sure I was going to bleed them for every penny. I had three cups.

View from my window
They even has a notice out front I was staying there. Well, they tried.

Japanese people know how to relax, at least the 1-2 days a year they decide to. I could go on and on. The public bath downstairs was just… rejuvenating. And I don’t know why, because you’re stark naked in a room full of people your same gender. I took two baths, which for a hotspring town was pitiful by Japanese standards. Most Japanese will jump in before dinner, after dinner, and in the morning. And if they have the time, they’ll run around town with a robe and a towel and find some serious natural hotsprings. I think they have my same mentality: every penny.

My breakfast contained no fewer than 14 different foods and/or drinks served using no fewer than 15 different plates and/or cups, each with a unique design. Food in Japan does more than taste good, it looks good. It must have taken at least 10 minutes just to set the thing up for me. These meals look something like this: http://www.unmissablejapan.com/sleeping/images/Ryokan-breakfast.jpg

Japanese are unbelievable musicians. In America, everyone says what a great piano player I am. In Japan, I’m positively second-rate.

At the same time, there’s a tragedy to this beauty, because inside, people are really, really hurting. And their exterior has to remain beautiful. No matter how depressed, lonely, and anxious you are, on the outside, you have to maintain a beautiful exterior, because everything in Japan is beautiful. So as much as any servant of God in Japan must love the beauty of this nation, you also much be able to see beyond the beauty to the hurting insides and the incredible spiritual needs of this people.