quick impressions from Japan

Just like last year trip to Shanghai was my first visit to China, this trip to Kyoto was my first time in Japan. I found the experience so exhilarating that I am already considering a trip back next year! (Especially since I could have lost all of my Kyoto pictures with my hard drive!) The mix of tradition and modernity, of history and high-tech, of chaotic architecture and smooth interactions, of rice fields in the shade of high-rises and of houses in the shade of expressways; all those snapshots, caught from the train as much as from the few hours I spent exploring the modern part of the city, are starting to blur already and I feel a need to go beyond to get a broader and deeper perspective on this fascinating country!I indeed had very little time for any serious exploration, except for the 5:30 run snapshots (and even then I spent as much time in the wood as in the streets!), however I bring back a feeling of excitement and permanent surprise, as things were so different there (the language barrier made things look even more alien, of course). Not only from the traditional Japan, of which the dinner at Awata Senso and the shrines and temples scattered through the city and woods were enticing entries, but also of the current Japan, with economic, political, and environmental issues that were hardly visible from my perspective…As a coincidence, the first nuclear plant to resume electricity production started a few days after we left Japan, not that far from Kyoto. Actually, I got several queries from friends and colleagues as to why I was not worried at being harmed by radiations. This seems to be a global issue as the number of tourists in Japan has dropped by 25% in the past months, but I do not see how staying a few days there could be more dangerous than facing the pollution in Cairo or Shanghai. Having to live in Japan for a long-term stay would certainly lead me to assess the risks more carefully but for a week!?(Written in Singapore Changi Airport on my way to Adelaide for the Australian Statistical Conference.)

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