Narita Airport, Tokyo – 9am. In this Japanese universe, the crowd emerging in front of a Japanese taxi seems to come straight out of a scene from “Alice in Wonderlands”. The exuberant Tokyo youth is not shy to copy the style of mangas or cartoons characters. We then come out onto Omotesando where the designer style buildings are home to luxury house such as Chanel, Prada or Hermès. In the popular suburb of Asakusa, we can still feel the spirit of the old “Edo”. Here we can find kimono and Akihabara’s accessories and hesitate in front of thousands of video games. Tokyo sometimes looks like a giant hive, for example at the fish market of Tsukiji where the auction sale reaches a frantic pace. We are now looking forward to the next surprise. It will take place in the lush region of Komatsu where we take a deep in the thermal water of Yamashiro and take in all its millenary benefits. The Ryokan Beniya Mukayu, hotel built on top of a Buddhist temple’s remains, take us into a world governed by traditions : private onsen, traditional dinner Kaiseki in yukata, matcha tea ceremony celebrated by a tea master – the owner of Ryokan in person. We leave the hotel, aboard the express train, speeding towards the coast of the Seto Sea. We find the islands of Naoshima, Inujima and Teshima where Soishiro Fukutake, supported by the architect Tadao Ando, has built a word of contemporary art. We discover, wandering in amazement, these fishermen islets where we find many cutting-edge art pieces, all of them absolutely unique. In fact an artistic whirlwind surround the islands where we will discover The Hotel Museum of Benesse House, many old houses transformed in art galleries and a lot of sculptures in the open. But it is in Kyoto, that we mainly feel the importance of the rituals, very deeply anchored in the Japanese culture. These rituals manifest themselves through the art of gardening, the calligraphy or the origami. After our visit of the Golden Pavilion Temple and of the bamboo forest of Arashiyama, we go for a taste of the wagashi, delicate patisseries served with tea. Finally, we stroll through the old Gion and its wooden house from the 17th century. Charmed by these old fashioned alleyways, we distinguish the sneaky shadow of a geisha, humbly facing down, trotting to an unknown destination. She disappears gracefully behind a mysterious portal, a reflection of the indelible screen of emotions we have experienced here in Japan.
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