Experiences in Japan

I have recently returned to Atlanta from visits to Japan for most of December 2007 and for about 12 days in July 2008. Both trips were wonderful. I went to learn from my teachers, and came back infinitely richer in many ways than before I left. My Japanese language skills seem to be both improving and getting rusty at the same time. I always know when I plan to return to Japan that I will be so glad I made the journey, and I am never disappointed.

Some of you who have been in for treatment or who know me personally have heard some of my stories about my adventures in Tokyo and Imabari, a small town on Shikoku Island where my senior teacher lives and practices. Life is so modern there in many ways but so different from living in the United States. In Tokyo particularly, people live very close together, in public and private. Here in Atlanta, and in the United States in general, people spread out and take up lots of personal space around our bodies and around our possessions. It can be startling to ride crowded trains, walk along packed sidewalks, and, when indoors, be very closely surrounded by four walls at all times. However, these conditions can be adapted to easily and then I start to wonder why I feel the need for so much space at home anyway. In Japan's countryside areas, people take up more room but still, the life is physically compact by American standards. There is order everywhere, though. Passengers boarding trains wait patiently until every departing passenger steps off. On the escalators, standers stand to the left and walkers walk up on the right. I get riled up myself to see some oblivious Westerner standing on the escalators, blocking the way for others to get by! At traffic lights, pedestrians wait for the light to change before crossing. Of course there are exceptions, but the order I observed astounded me. It was as if everyone knew the rules for being in crowds and followed those rules to the letter. All the space we're used to in the States must allow some of us to disregard such courtesies in order to get where we're going or get our bearings; we're just thinking about our own little paths, not about how orderly transportation could run for everybody if we just paid more attention to our surroundings and to efficiency. Societies become reflected by glimpses such as these.

Kerri Winston, Ph.D., L.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in Atlanta, Georgia's Buckhead area. If you are interested in learning more about how acupuncture can help you or your loved ones, please call 404-949-0550 or send email to kerri@acuworks.net.