Travel, Teach, Live in Japan
Japan is a world leader in electronics and technology. But, they also make use of papers. You use the shredder to tear pieces of paper, yet, do you know that paper used to be a rare commodity? Only merchants and other members of the elite crowd have the exclusive rights to it for creating wedding ornaments or sacred objects that are still found today in various shrines. While paper use had only become more common in time, the trace of Japanese culture and artistry through these unique paper folds will never be wiped off its rich heritage.
While papers seem nothing more but waste, others find treasure in it through origami, which came from the root words “kami” or paper and “oru” or fold. It actually started in China but soon flourished in early Japan. It became more popular in 1950s when a young girl named Sasaki Sadako first developed leukemia due to radiation in Hiroshima bombings. According to the myth, if you create a senbazuru or thousand folded cranes, and can make your wish come true. Instead of asking for her recovery, Sadako then prayed for world peace. She was only able to make 644 folds but her friends finished the origami masterpiece and presented it to her funeral. The world then learned that even the artful craft of origami can bring hope and inspiration.
When you see a simple flower arrangement that gives emphasis to the position of humans, earth, and heaven, then you are looking at the Japanese famous flower arrangement known as “Ikebana.” I learned this type of arrangement through my Japanese friend who owns a flowershop in the city. One time, I visited her established flower shop and while waiting for her, I observed the different flowers that the shop was selling. There are different kinds of arrangements but there was one simple arrangement that caught my attention. It was an arrangement which was made up of only three lovely flowers in an elegant and expensive vase.
Another legendary Japanese material is the samurai sword. There’s a legend that once said Samurai swords remain so sharp and powerful that they can even pierce through your soul. Truly, they are priceless treasures reminiscent of the early struggles in Japan. Although we see them more in Quentin Tarantino’s Hollywood flicks like “Kill Bill,” even the sleek grooves of Uma Thurman can’t rival the mystic charms of this ancient Japanese weapon of war. Just looking at it will make you stop in great awe and while you run your hands on its delicate surface, you’ll also feel the mystery behind it. The warriors are defined by how they use their swords. Not only do Samurai swords exact death, but also lead heroes to glory once they stand up to a deadly duel of integrity and skill. After the age-old battles, Samurai swords only hung on walls as reminders of an incredible Japanese history. They are not just ornaments but a proof of noble cause, which once thrived in the hearts of a true Samurai warrior.