“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to always tell the difference”
Reinhold Niebuhr, Kurt Vonnegut
I’ve been thinking about covering this topic in my blog for a long time and eventually decided to do it. Firstly to structure it all for myself and secondly to share some thoughts and interesting articles & videos which I collected for last couple of years. As a result, this post is quite long and wordy, so don’t open up the full article if you’re not really interested in such kind of philosophical issues and get bored easily by them. In this case you might think that this is just an unpractical gobbledegook.
I actually find the combination of how important and how ambiguous this issue is quite puzzling. Very high percentage of people respond to the question about meaning of their lives with “to be happy” answer. And very few of them actually have any particular idea what this happiness is, how to achieve & feel it. Even in their individual case, not universally.
I came to Romania to work for 3 months. Frankly speaking I wasn’t full of enthusiasm about it from the very beginning. It’s not all that exotic — same old Eastern Europe, it’s not widely known as a perfect place for tourism and vacations with great beaches and service, it’s not in the list of the most developed and advanced countries in the world that would be interesting to see. In other words, I could not find a single reason to see it.
But at the end of the day why not to use the opportunity to visit country which I would otherwise most probably miss? Wouldn’t it also be interesting to see the country that only left its Soviet past behind in 89 and already joined EU in 07? Aside from that I didn’t know much about the country to be honest. Others around me didn’t seem to know significantly more though: I was quite tired of jokes about Count Dracula long before actually going there… In fact, it appeared to be quite an interesting country to visit.
I would like to devote this post to Japanese temple, imperial palaces and just gardens. I believe, you can enjoy their beauty and sophistication regardless of your attitude towards monarchs, religion or concept of God in general.
A couple of words about religion. Buddhism and Shinto prevail in Japan, so these are the ones that I’m going to cover here. However, in general Japanese tend to associate themselves with few religions at the same time. Moreover, only 20% of population actually believes in any God.
Also, in April 2010 had a chance to go to Turkey for 3 days. Curiously enough not on vacation but to participate in a work-related event. However I doubt that I’ll ever go to Turkey on holidays again taking into consideration number of times I’ve been there as a kid. Anyway, even work cannot spoil mountains, sea and sun. And this is what I suggest you to enjoy with me on the pictures below.
Well, you need to be the Captain Obvious to state that Japan has a very original and delicious cuisine. Variety of fish and seafood, unusual soups, seaweed, sashimi and of course sushi. Everything is fresh and delicious. You will like it if you’re open-minded in the first place.
Fortunately, we had an opportunity to try it all: the authentic cuisine in the expensive traditional restaurants, cheap fast-food-like cafes and a regular bento (Japanese lunch box) in the shinkansen (Japanese high-speed train). And all were good.
My plans to visit Japan turned into reality! Thank you all for your recommendations! If I were to describe the trip in one word I would call it unforgettable. We usually slept for 4-7 hrs a night trying to experience as much as we could.
Let me answer expected questions right away. How did I get there? Well, have been a PhD student in Higher School of Economics during the last year and a half. As I surprisingly still didn’t get kicked out I decided to participate in the organization of the student exchange with the Japanese Masters and PhD students in June 2009. Took days off at work and helped guys to get around the city and see lots of cool things.
Then, there was a long delay with no news. So, I saved some money and vacation days at work. But after 10 months the reciprocal trip was organized! And it was organized on the breath-taking level!