Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Ruins of Kobe, Japan

I've always wondered why some Japanese tourist "like" to visit some "ugly" places in our country. The are amazed at the dirt and squalor of Smokey mountains, entertained by the "moon-crater"- like quality of our roads, and admire our filthy cheap products. On a trip to a beach resort in Mactan, we had to traverse a bumpy, rocky off-road trail. A Japanese companion mused, "We never have these kind of roads in Japan. This is enjoyable! Like riding bump cars!"

In order to fully appreciate beauty, one much experience the ugly. One cannot really fathom ugliness without a first-hand encounter with beauty. I had this experience when I visited Kobe, Japan- a mesmerizingly beautiful city. Imagine, a ruin - a sordid reminder of the earthquake that struck Kobe several years ago- turned into a Museum and a Memorial park. This is the only part of Kobe that is "dirty" because it was never rehabilitated after the quake. The dilapidated structures (harbour, roads)- which looked ugly to us, is a common sight in our country- but not in Japan. Japan is a super clean country, almost sterile, where dirt and garbage is an uncommon sight.

Everything is in order- no traffic, no pollution, no gambling, and the people are generally friendly. If I was born here, I would surely squirm at some, (or should I say most), sights in our home country on first encounter. Travel is an experience, and the Japanese traveller venture into these "ugly" places in our country to experience something they have'nt experienced before- and what a "dirty" experience it is.

I am amazed at Japan's super-sterile invironment but i would not want to live in this place. Sometimes, fun is lost in being too "clean". I want a place with dirt, a place with excitement...Come to think of it, dirt is fun!!!!!!!