April 6th, COVID19 Update

IMG_3093Today was the first day that schools rep-opened in Japan after over a month of being closed. Shinzo Abe is “officially preparing” to declare a state of emergency. Until now it felt like they must have been officially preparing to officially prepare this declaration. When I first heard this I welcomed this as long overdue news, but now we’ve learned that this will only apply to densely-populated prefectures and that it will imply no lockdown. This is simply an enforcement of the way things already are more than a disruption and I feel that it ignores basic principles of human migration and the fact that many people commute across prefectures.

It has been very frustrating seeing how little Japan has put a collective effort into staying home and social distancing. They haven’t even translated this word that the rest of the world now holds as a mantra into katakana. I suppose the logic is that if there is no word for it then nobody has to do it.

It all feels like an attempt to save the economy. First from the Olympics crashing, and now just general decline. If the disease spread throughout Japan though, the effects would be far more damaging. Coverups seem to be the way disasters are handled in Japan.

It really is a shame, because I feel that in the entire world there is no country and people better at coming together and solving collective task when a challenge and a pathway to the goal has been set in place. Japanese society cooperates and follows agreed-upon rules better than any other system I’ve ever seen on this planet. In regards to COVID19, however, the people of Japan have seemed to find this as an opportunity for Japanese exceptionalism. They are acting is if Japan is immune to this, and the highest officials in Japan are furthering the spinning of this daydream.

It is true that compared to other countries, Japan is much better off. Japan has the highest rate of hospital beds per population by far, and the same is true for imaging technologies. I’m very grateful to be here and to have Japanese health insurance available should I need it. I don’t know what I’d be doing if I was still in NYC. It is simply unbelievable how bad things have gotten there.

In trying to prevent this from happening in Japan I’m trying to avoid events and not meet with people unless absolutely necessary, but trying to explain this to coworkers and friends here makes me feel like I’m from another planet. There seems to be the rest of the world, and Japan. Japan has decided that this issue isn’t serious and you’re ostracised if you’re operating under a different mindset.

There’s also an attitude in Japan that the spread of disease is something that just can’t be helped. It’s a force of nature that humans are less powerful than and we are at nature’s whim. Because of this, people continue to go out in droves to view the cherry blossoms, shop in stores, and play in parks enjoying the nice weather. Shoganai. Although I do prefer humbling worldviews where humans are a part of nature and that the planet is more powerful than our species, the fact is that we are not leaves blowing in the wind and there most absolutely are things we can do to prevent the spread of disease. The same attitude was taken in Japan after the 3/11 disaster in Fukushima. It was a horrible tragedy that claimed the lives of tens of thousands. Nobody could help the fact that a earthquake and tsunami took place. Researches did know and warn for years, however, that there was precedent for these natural disasters at Fukushima and strongly cautioned that bigger storm barriers should have been built or that a  nuclear reactors should not have existed there in the first place. Expressing this attitude that human beings are accountable, however, will put you on the fringes of society.  Nobody remembers alternate histories to what could have been. Society just remembers what happened and copes with its losses.

Moving forward from here, the cases in Tokyo seem to be rising daily. The numbers are still very small compared to other countries, however Japan is purposefully not testing as much as other nations. Part of this is to skew data, but another part is in the logic that bringing people into hospitals to get tested could further spread the infection.

My girlfriend and I try not to go out as much as possible and carry with us a bottle of hand sanitizer by the brand name of Clefil that we spray into our hands every time we return to our car. Clefil has become a new verb for us that we use every day. When we get home we have adopted extreme decontamination rituals of disinfecting everything we had with us on the outside, shedding our outer layers of clothing, and immediately showering. We are not far from wearing aluminum foil caps on our heads. It is hard to believe it has come to this.

Until today, we hadn’t seen a mask or bottle of hand sanitizer for sale since February. There was one exception. I saw one bottle in a drug store a few weeks ago the same time another woman did. We made eye contact, she looked at the bottle, and then we looked back at each-other. Suddenly, she ran for the bottle, grabbed it, and took it running to the cashier. It has come to this.

Today we drove by a different drugstore and saw a line snaking around waiting for the store to open well over an hour before opening. After doing our shopping in another area we came back and figured we’d try our luck at joining and to just see how things felt on the ground. Everyone was waiting patiently and the staff had set up a system where one stood at the door admitting people slowly one my one, where they then proceeded to a display where they could pick up one bottle of hand sanitizer and one pack of masks per person, and then snake around to pay at the register. There was a very old woman behind us who seemed to just want to talk to a stranger. It felt like she must have been very desperate for human contact if she was willing to seek this form of contact through random foreigners.  The whole scene there that day felt made me feel like I was witnessing history. If things get worse we might talk about this in the same way of what it was like in the soup lines of The Great Depression or in the Soviet Bloc near the end of the Soviet Union. My 96 year-old grandmother told me on the phone the other day that this was the strangest thing she ever lived through.  Visiting this drug store and standinf in line for a single pack of race masks and a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer made me feel like we’re only a fine line away from total chaos. Maybe it is the relatively low death rate of COVID-19. Maybe it is that supply chains are still stable and that the hospitals here are not yet overwhelmed. If any of these factors change though, it feels like all hell could break loose.

March 23rd: Coronavirus Update

The world has been enveloped by Coronavirus. I never thought we’d see something like this happen within my lifetime, and it is hard to believe this is reality even now. I alter between thinking everything is going to be all right and everything seems fine, to thinking that this could very well be the end for tens of millions of people, including my family and people that are very close to me. It is like being at war, but with an enemy you can’t defeat with bombs, or at all.

Japan has not been checking many people and they want the Olympics to go through at any cost. Today, however, Canada pulled out of the Olympics and others will soon follow. Japan does seem to have less numbers and less pandemonium than the rest of the world, however people seem a little too comfortable with this information now that spring is here. People line up outside of restaurants, go to see the sakura blossoms, and go shopping as if nothing has happened. Researchers caution that Japan or anywhere else could quickly become like Italy at any moment. In Italy, the world’s second oldest population after Japan, they can’t make enough coffins for the dead. Over 700 died last Saturday.

I remember earlier this year when my girlfriend had a layover flight in China, her stepfather cautioned that there seemed to be some kind of severe pneumonia going around. That was it. We had no idea it would come to this.

The very first case in Japan was in Sakurai, the nearest city to where I live and where we sometimes get groceries. I saw masks for sale and hand sanitizer that said “one per customer” and that was the last time I’ve seen them. They’ve been sold out ever since.

My hands are getting raw from washing them so much. Every day I wake up and look at my phone for updates constantly. The USA doubted this would spread over there, but this was wrong. Now New York is the new epicenter. Thousands of cases and within a few days, hospitals already inundated. I’m very glad I’m not working there right now and am not sure what I’d do if I was. Would I just quit? There must be a lot of pressure. The economic reality of having to keep your job during all this is horrible.

In rural Japan in Kawakami where I can work from home every day, my girlfriend and I are probably in the best situation possible for our own safety. We’re in the country that has been hit the least and that has the most beds per population.

Everyone is being advised to “socially distance” in order to “flatten the curve.” These are terms that were probably common nomenclature among epidemiologists for decades, yet now it has become common parlance. It seems the USA is taking this the most seriously. All restaurants, gyms, and public gatherings have been closer in NYC and California. Everyone that can is working from home and the governor is advising people only to take public transportation in emergencies.

In Japan, everyone is waiting for orders to follow. Japan cancelled classes for six weeks for students, but the adults have not done so much. In the USA, if there are top down orders people bristle and declare that this is “martial law.” This could be the end for people like that.

There were ideas at first that it was only the old affected. Now it’s known that this is not true. I listened to a New York Times podcast that compared this with the 1918 Spanish Flu and how in that pandemic, everyone knew someone that died. If 2% of the world population of 8 billion right now died, this would be hundereds of millions dead. Worse than the holocaust and WWII, atomic bombing and basically everything we know in modern history. I can’t imagine how horrible this must have been during the bubonic plague, when nobody was even really sure what was happening. Bird masks.

It’s amazing how much can change week-by-week. When Shinzo Abe declared that all schools would be closed, I got the alert immediately on my phone at Taiko. The next day, taiko was cancelled. I thought this was very extreme and protested saying we could hold practices elsewhere. How stupid this idea seems now.

Now I’m watching both Japanese news and the US news. The US is in the thick of it and it is hard to tell if applying US caution to Japan is overkill. Doug says that precautions should feel like overkill though, and if it doesn’t you waited too late.

A doctor friend of mine advised to stock up on food. You know it’s bad when doctors are telling you to build bunkers.

If this gets really bad, which it already is, there are ways the world will never be the same again. Similar to post 9/11. This is a pretty big thing and a pretty big risk that people have anticipated for years. It’s very frustrating because we aren’t able to fight it. More concerning to me was always the idea of a major meteor strike, or something wacky happening in spacetime like our solar system getting sucked into a black hole or a nearby star going supernova.

I don’t think this will wipe us out, but it makes you realize that life is fragile and that our species in all likelihood will go extinct one day. That if there was a virus that had a much higher fatality rate it could mean the end of us. This makes me very sad. Not my own death, but that nobody is able to appreciate beauty anymore. Maybe I’m more afraid of death than my conscious mind admits though.



Mixed Nuts and Japanese Healthcare



I paid a visit to a dental clinic in Japan for the first time recently and as someone born in the USA this experience was quite an eye-opener. Two nights ago I was chewing on some mixed nuts and bit into a petrified rock-like corn kernel that knocked a plastic resin filling out of one of my molars (lol).

I found a clinic on Google Maps and drove over. I was surprised at how modern even the lobby looked and was seen within 10 or 15 minutes. The dentist seemed very professional and all of the equipment was very high-tech. Next to the chair was a high-res screen that displayed x-ray images taken by a handheld imaging device that didn’t require the dentist to leave the room or have me wear any led body armor. Noises were made from all of these kind machines that made me feel like I had time traveled into the future.

The dentist pulled up CG videos on the high-res screen attached to the chair that showed from different angles what he needed to do to get me back to eating my petrified corn kernels and made things very easy to understand. Everything was done like clockwork and his assistants functioned like appendages of the same being, clearly understanding everything that was taking place and requiring surprisingly little need for any verbal communication.

There was a time for a little Q&A in a separate consultation room afterwards and I left with confidence. Of course, everything was covered by insurance.

It felt great that I had received prompt and excellent treatment, but I also left feeling/remembering that when it comes to healthcare, the USA is the laughing stock of the world.

I have a reputation with family and friends in the US for hating trips to the dentist, but the hatred for this experience is often misunderstood. I’m fine with pain and don’t mind the eerie experience of getting bone drilled into and hearing/smelling teeth getting ground down inside my face. What I hate is the feeling that I can’t do this myself and have to trust another individual that they are looking out for my best interests. In the USA, with dentistry and any other medical procedure, there is always the questions of A: How much things will cost, B: How necessary the procedure is, and C: How much money is being made off of you. People without insurance don’t ask these questions at all because they aren’t even able to get treatment.

Today was the first time in my life that I didn’t have to feel the fear that a dentist was conducting unnecessary or excessive measures to make a profit off of me. I didn’t feel like my body was being exploited for money or that this could be an opportunity even if the dentist wanted it to be. I had with this complete stranger a level of trust that takes years of seeking to find in the US, because in countries where the medicine is socialized this trust can be taken for granted. I’d shopped around for a few different dentists in VA and NYC, and most of them claimed that the opinions that the other dentist had given me was ridiculous and that *they* were the ones that were right. I mentioned this to the dentist today and he threw me a telling look and said that he’s well aware of the troubles with our system.

I look at our military expansion (nothing against our service members themselves) and other areas that we prioritize over the health of our people and just feel like we have everything ass-backwards. Compared to countries with actual socialized medicine like Japan, Obamacare felt like a scam that just required people to take part in our profit-based system rather than providing a truly socialized system that has the funding it deserves. It’s often used as a strawman for why socialized medicine doesn’t/didn’t work, but it wasn’t socialized to begin with. I hope that within our lifetimes the US will be able to pry itself from the hold of corporate healthcare and the delusion that Americans have it better than the rest of the world, because they most absolutely do not.

Rural Revitalization


For the past year I have been working in a small Japanese village under rural revitalization program created by Japan’s national government. The name of the program has no name in English, but its Japanese name, the Chiki Okoshi Kyoryokutai, translates to something like the “Rural Revitalization Cooperation Corps.”

Somewhat of a cross between a relocation program, an incubator program, and a Japanese experiment with universal basic income, participants are live in a remote area of Japan and can engage in work that will in some way contribute to the local areas where they are living.

I come from a background of journalism, so it is through this lens that I am making my impact. Compared to what I saw in this village when I first came here eight years ago, there have been huge improvements in PR of rural areas and a new boom of the creation of cafes, events, and gathering places that appeal to people in their 20’s and 30’s.

In areas that many thought were doomed, young couples burned out from the cities are moving in little by little and having kids. In the village where I am living, the youngest grades of the local elementary school have a higher class numbers than other grades in the elementary or middle schools. This new influx has played a part.

In 2018, Kawakami was ranked by the national government of Japan to have the highest population decline of all of Japan’s municipalities by the year 2045. Population decline and rural flight are so extreme in Japan that it does not seem likely that rural villages like Kawakami will ever see a full revival anytime within our lifetimes.

The yakuba (town hall) in Kawakami is flanked by Kawakami’s only hotel, a post office, a bank, a barber shop across the street, and a small medical clinic. Living here, it sometimes feels that this string of life is a Potemkin Village, set up to give outsiders the impression that things are still going fine.

The reality is that economically speaking, the village may be already dead and can be seen as on life support with a plastic breathing tube shoved down its throat. Many of the few local industries that remain here rely on government support for existence, and for many government or government-supported jobs seem to be the only real opportunity for employment. Walking into the yakuba and seeing everyone typing away at their desks with a formality that feels unfitting to the surrounding nature, this office feels like the command center of a sinking ship.

Most of the crew on this sinking ship actually aren’t even on the ship at all—although many of them were born and raised in Kawakami, many live around 45 minutes away in a nearby city and commute to work every day. It’s hard to blame them—in doing so they are proving their children with more opportunities and are in general living much more comfortable lives than they would isolated in the mountains. If those driving the ship remove their own personal stake from whether or not the village dies, however, its hard to imagine that any of the changes needed to halt decline will be made to shift the village away from its eventual disintegration.  I also wonder if it is possible for the children of these villagers who live in other places will have the same devotion towards Kawakami that their parents do.

So why not call it quits and pull the plug and accept reality. Some people view the artificial propping of rural places like Kawakami as a waste of taxpayer money and a cancer holding down the country. Some people view my job, loosely defined as revitalizing the countryside without but without a clear blueprint for how this is possible, with contempt. They feel we should make our own money or not make any money at all.

I don’t find it enriching for humans to live off of handouts, however I don’t think that’s what the Kyouryokutai is. I consider it a job like any other. If we take a radical stance and view all government subsidies as a bad thing, the agriculture industry would disappear, as would the military, civil engineers contracted by the government, the CDC, and every teacher working for public schools or universities. It’s up to society to determine what is important and to distribute tax money from there to ensure that these services and entities are maintained.

I consider the life and infrastructure of rural areas to be in the category of things worth maintaining and wholeheartedly believe that the Kyoryokutai and other efforts to preserve the Japanese countryside are a good thing. If Japan looses it’s ability to live in rural areas, it looses a part of itself. Japan’s countryside will lop off like unused vestigial appendages as the country, its populace, and its infrastructure consolidate around Tokyo and the surrounding metropolis. Some have described this as like Japan becoming a Singapore, and there are politicians who have actually advocated for this.

For one, the country will be simpler to maintain and resources will not to be spread so thin. There are huge dangers in this however. Damages reduced through disasters like the long-anticipated eruption of Mt. Fuji, tsunamis, earthquakes, pandemics, and nuclear disasters are one. More than this though I think its worth preserving these areas to preserve the diverse culture that exists, and to keep open the option of living life that is outside the rat race of the city. To keep open the option of unplugging and living a simpler life for a while where creativity can bloom and human hearts can regain their strength. To keep alive living examples of people who choose to live alongside nature.

I don’t know if it will be possible to “save”places like Kawakami, but I do think it is possible to create small hamlets of creative people and keep their embers burning for decades and perhaps centuries to come. Perhaps they will prove to be pilot lights of larger-scale migrations to rural areas in the future. In an age where remote work is on the rise and the ability to choose where we live in less and less dependent on city life, empowering rural areas is an endeavor that can open new doors for society and our creative construction of a new future.







Typhoon Hagibis


Typhoon Hagibis has cometh. It’s said to be the typhoon of the century, and everyone is bracing for cover. Throughout the night last night, air raid speakers leftover from WWII howled throughout the village that I live in and from the early morning public announcement speakers urged villagers to take refuge at evacuation centers on higher ground.

The disaster preparedness in rural Japan is different from what is experienced in the US. In the US, if a Category 5 hurricane is on the way to Florida, residents are encouraged to evacuate and get as far away from the path of the hurricane as possible. If radar imaging shows that the hurricane will envelop the entire state of Florida, the advice from the government is to get the hell out of Florida. The most important thing is to stay alive. 

In rural Japan, safety is certainly a priority and most people are good about having evacuation bags prepared at all time in case of a disaster, but there is a perception of cowardice in fleeing one’s village and everyone in it in order to prioritize one’s own safety. I’m not entirely sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but a lot more thought is put into social interactions. It isn’t normal for a mayor or a governor to tell a community to get out of their village or prefecture. It seems that doing so would somehow reflect poorly on the area, that there is something intrinsic that makes the area uninhabitable. A perception like this is certainly not desirable in a prefecture or village suffering from severe depopulation due to rural flight.

Evacuation in rural Japan is a group activity, and the advice from the local government is to take place in the local evacuation center, which is often a school or community center walking distance from where one is living.

Today I’m holed up in an abandoned middle school on a hill in above my house. In a little mountain village with a history of deadly landslides situated next to a river that is prone to flooding, it is questionable whether the prescribed evacuation centers are any safer than just staying in one’s house. Being with other members of the community feels like a false sense of security when the entire hamlet that we are in could be carried into the violent river below us in the wave of a collapsing mountain. But not everyone can afford this kind of evacuation, and elderly residents unable to drive would be abandoned in this exodus unable to fend for themselves. If one were to survive and everyone else were wiped out, it is easy to understand that they would be seen as a coward. Perhaps a little more responsibility should be borne by the children and grandchildren of these villagers that are off living in the cities where it is safer and there are more jobs, but these individuals are out of sight and out of mind.

For the rest of the day, it looks like we’ll be feeding on the mountain of sweets that the local grannies grabbed on their way out during evacuation. Only the essentials.



New Beginning

kiI’ve begun a new chapter in an old space, and have decided to restart this blog.

After leaving the village of Kawakami in Nara-prefecture, Japan, five years ago to start a career as a journalist, I freelanced around the world covering issues like the stories of North Koreans living in South Korea, the plight of disenfranchised ethnic minorities living along the India-Nepal border, and what it was like camping out with around 10,000 refugees bottlenecked along the Greece-Macedonia border. My most widely circulated story was a documentary that I shot with Vice in 2016 on Nepali villagers who hunt for hallucinogenic honey off the side of cliff faces. I eventually found my way to New York City, where I found work as a staff reporter with the Japanese daily newspaper The Tokyo Shimbun, and later as a producer with the Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.

Earlier this year, I saw a recent statistic that of all the towns and villages of Japan, the little village of Kawakami has been projected by the Japanese national government to have the highest rate of decline in all of Japan. Rural flight and the quest for opportunity had taken its toll.

While in New York, I became obsessed with the thought of whether it is necessary to depend on major cities for work and whether villages like Kawakami have to die. Living shoulder to shoulder with millions of other people, working in offices under florescent lighting, and relying on the unreliable New York Subway for commuting five days out of the week can grind you down. We live in an era where in many fields, if you have an internet connection you can find a job. I reflected fondly back on the bucolic life that I lived in Japan when I first started this blog and wondered if  it might be possible to once again live a good life away from the city. I obsessed with the question of whether we really are bound to opportunities that exist in the geographical locations around us, or if it is possible to create new opportunities and bring them with us.

I’ve discovered a handful of individuals and communities in rural Japan that came to me like an answer to this question, and quickly their numbers are increasing. The Japanese countryside today is not the same countryside that I left five years ago.  I’ve met a wide spectrum of individuals out here ranging from Japanese hippies focusing on raising dairy goats and cultivating microbiotic foods to hackers developing automated farming technologies to benefit their local farming communities. 

Little attention is paid to what is happening to all of the rural areas where people from the worlds’ cities are coming from. In Japan, there has been a mass exodus from the countryside that has been going on for decades. This problem is not unique to Japan, however Japan offers to the world a very extreme example. Combining rural flight with a declining population and a rapidly aging society, the result is that places in the countryside are beginning to feel like ghost towns. Japan currently estimated to have 8.5 to 10 million abandoned houses, more abandoned houses than any other nation in the world. What direction Japan decides to take from here could serve as a model for the rest of the world: either as a story of brilliant success or a story of collapse and failure.

Through the inspiration of others, I decided to take a leap and see what I opportunities I could grow if I became one of these individuals living on the cusp of this grand social experiment to geographically unplug from the world’s cities to work towards creating a new world where humans can be empowered and connected no matter where they are on the globe. I quit my job in New York, canceled my lease with my landlord, and bought a one-way ticket to Japan to live once again in what is now Japan’s fastest declining village, Kawakami. Somehow I managed to convince my girlfriend to embark upon this same journey.

I really do have hope that it is possible for us to do something different than simply chasing dollars, and I’ve always felt that life is too short to live a comfortable life where at the end all that we can say is that we helped carry forward to status quo. I hope that at the end of my life I can think that the way that I lived was worthwhile and that I was able to make a positive impact on others, or at the very least that people can learn from the mistakes of my trial and error.

A big part of this blog will be to share about the lives and works of others who are far greater than myself who helped inspire me to get to where I am now, and I hope that they can affect you in a similar way. Other posts might be on my thoughts and observations here in Kawakami. I intend for this blog to be defined by an overarching focus of rural revitalization and the transmission of success stories of geographical decentralization away from cities and the human empowerment that follows from this. I’ll try to be as interactive as possible and to answer any questions that I receive through email should you have any.

Thank you for your support. I hope that from time to time you may be able to gain something from reading about this journey.





Operations have shifted to www.davidcaprara.com. But this is not the end for the baga. There is a backlog of photos/elements of Japanese culture that I would like to share and I plan to continue updating this page over the course of the next few years. Stay tuned and be sure to follow my current work at the site listed above.


  Japan’s northernmost frontier, Hokkaido is a land of rugged wilderness unparalleled by any of Japan’s other prefectures. It is the largest prefecture of Japan, and in the winter months most of its territory is rendered impassable by a permanent blanket of snow. It’s territory stretches into the 45th parallel on the globe and it is possible to view streams of ocean ice drift by along the northern coast.

In the summer months, where the southern prefectures of Honshu and Kyushu become hot and humid, the cool temperatures of Hokkaido provide a great spring-like escape.


In Hokkaido the roads are often lined with flowers and drivers are exposed to vast views of diverse farmland, quite different from the usual Japanese countrysides, which are often dominated by fields of rice.

1D4A0297The conditions for motorcycling on this island are ideal, and Hokkaido is somewhat of a Mecca for Japanese motorcyclists that live throughout all of the country’s 47 prefectures. Making a trip there and circling the island is seen as a right of passage for motorcyclists who enjoy touring. There is a strong sense of comradery among the motorcyclists making their pilgrimage to Hokkaido, many driving for thousands of kilometers before their trip is finished.  1D4A1002

The wilderness in Hokkaido is often very remote and can be accessed if one ventures only slightly off the beaten trail frequented by day-hikers. Brown bears inhabit the hills, and one has to take care not to make any mistakes such as leaving food inside one’s tent at night. Pictured above is a scene from a trail leading through the UNESCO world heritage site of Shiretoko.

1D4A0968A friend poses for a photo on a peak near an active sulfuric volcano.

1D4A0552One is at home with nature here. The sun does not feel external, but rather an extension of one’s heart.


Within the string of small islands sandwiched between Honshu and Shikoku, there lies a very special island of magic and creativity. It’s name is  Naoshima (直島). This beautiful island is filled to the brim with modern art and natural beauty, as well as interesting people from all over the world who have an inclination for such things. The island features works by Tadao Andō, Claude Monet, Yukinori Yanagi, James Turrell, Jasper Johns, Yves Klein, Andy Warhol, and Hiroshi Sugimoto, to list a few. Pictured above is a giant pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama, which has sort of become a symbol for the island itself.

The most magnificent of the many museums on the island in my opinion is the Chichu Art museum. The museum was designed by Japanese architect Tadao Andō and is built almost entirely out of concrete, metal, and wood. The museum has an air that seems to transcend humanity and one feels like they are on some sort of space outpost on a very faraway planet. In one exhibition room one takes of their shoes and puts on sterile slippers to traverse a floor composed entirely of small perfectly polished white marble stones. One rounds the corner into the enormous main hall and is exposed to a painting of a pond by Monet that is the size of a small whale. This white hall is clean and minimalistic, and in the soft light one feels like they are inside of the brain of Steve Jobs/an Apple computer or inside Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A space Odyssey. There are only 4 exhibits in the entirety of this museum and they all work together in their minimalism to create a truly profound experience.

Those who wish to stay on the island have the option of sleeping in Mongolian gerrs beside the sea. There are some great minds on this little island….

“Japanese Machu Picchu”

This is the name that many young Japanese are giving to the increasingly-popular Takeda castle ruins(竹田城) far in the inaka of Hyōgo prefecture. Not a bad comparison–there are certainly less tourists here.