Bullet points on Japan

Published 18 March 2024

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I’m back from a great trip to Japan (specifically Honshu, the main island). Below are some things (sidenote: Blanket caveat that I don’t really know what I’m talking about and I am not suggesting you should be interested.) and found interesting.

I also got distracted by Agnes Callard’s article The Case Against Travel and wrote some thoughts on travel in general.

Japan notes

(Thank you E, and A and K, for making it such a nice trip)

Thoughts re whether travel is good

Here is Robin Williams’ character in Good Will Hunting:

Robin Williams: You’re just a kid, you don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talkin’ about.

Matt Damon: Why thank you.

Robin Williams: It’s all right. You’ve never been out of Boston.

Matt Damon: Nope.

Robin Williams : So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that.

I have been reading two good books about Sri Lanka, namely K.M. de Silva’s Sri Lanka and the Defeat of the LTTE and also his A History of Sri Lanka.  Both would be very difficult to follow if I didn’t already have a decent sense of the place names, how the country “fits together,” and many other features of life here. If I read about a 12th century Buddhist kingdom, in fact I absorb and retain much more of that knowledge if I have visited the ruins of said kingdom.  It is more intellectually and emotionally salient to me, whether or not that process is rational.

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