A recent trip to Japan revived some of my ideas about the value of putting serious effort into creating aesthetic pleasures.

This is a nation who revere perfection in all things.

Frequently reminding me of French Epicureanism, Japan’s ancient and highly codified approach to pleasure was evident in parks and playgrounds, temples and tea ceremonies, food presentation and fashion. 

The painstaking planting at Koishikawa Korakuen and Shinjuku Gyoen gardens gave grandiose vistas as well as intimate seclusion, and spectacular yet fleeting displays of a single plant (although I missed cherry blossom season, the azaleas were in full bloom). The overall effect was humbling and hinted at a dedication to aesthetic pleasure that is rare in Western culture.

   
 This brief visit reaffirmed and reinvigorated my ideas about the “other side” of hedonism. 

As a nation we are moving away from the “she’ll be right” approach to culture, and increasing numbers of wineries, food producers and restaurants, as well as musicians, artists, designers and authors are receiving deserved international acclaim.

We are such a young nation and culture, with so much potential to develop our own unique style and traditions. The dedicated professionalism of today’s young kiwi creatives can only help us along this path.

  

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