Photo Journal: Finding Zen in Hokkaido, Japan
For as long as I could remember, I’ve always loved the electric buzz of modern cosmopolitan cities. Having lived in NYC, Chicago and now Hong Kong, I love the endless crop of stores full of random curiosities, the mass herd of people heading in all kinds of determined directions, the insatiable selections of cuisines, lounges and bars.
And, unless you a) have no pulse, b) are congenitally analgesic to feelings or c) hate puppies, it is nearly impossible not to react to it all; the sweaty excitement of a night out dancing, the leg-shaking frustration during a transit delay and the curious wonderment of people watching through the clamorous din of activity. The soundtrack of life in these cities play shifting crescendos of experiences, emotions and effusions; a hive of life that never stops humming.
When I went to Hokkaido last Easter, I discovered that the island is the opposite of that: an orderly oasis of natural civilization. Don’t get me wrong, there are things to do and places to go: skiing/snowboarding in Niseko, visiting quaint farms, bakeries and dairy shops along the countryside and making pottery or glass sculptures in local artist towns. But the combination of the island’s tranquil pace and the natural zen of the Japanese make the country’s second largest island a place to find soul-reviving solace.
After calibrating to the norm of hearing the soft drumming of my pulse as the island’s main soundtrack, I found myself unwinding a ball of tightly-knit thoughts, dreams, ambitions that never saw a second glance. A very different way of life to the cities I’ve called home, but it was exactly what I needed.