Today I flew from Hong Kong to Tokyo. The contrast between the two cultures is startling. In some ways the two places seem to be diametric opposites. I have not yet fully processed the difference, but I have a theory.
The essential energy of Hong Kong seems to come from an inner noisiness, a hustle and bustle, a jostling for space. In Japan there seems to be something entirely different at work — an underlying aesthetic that permeates all things. It is in the architecture, the furniture, the shop displays, the way people carry themselves.
This aesthetic appears to come from a place of calm, of symmetry. The quiet space within and around everything really matters here, so much so that people just take this space for granted — and perhaps they do not even notice it, so much does it suffuse everything.
After the churning energy of Hong Kong — which I liked very much, by the way — I am now looking forward to spending some time in a culture where everything is done with a sense of ceremony.