Each person has their own way of travelling. For some nature is important, for others culture is most important. Some organize their trips around regional dishes. And some like a mixture of all those things together to create a balance that satisfy their needs.
Nevertheless, the greater part of the people who travel to Japan are only interested in the two following aspects: traditional culture and Japanese cuisine – a third aspect that is gaining popularity is popular culture. In other words, traveling to Japan is quite often culture and historic based (with an important focus on aestheticism): one wants to see temples, shrines, castles, gardens, … etc. .
While there is no correct way to travel, we do want to propose, in the case of this culture/historic travelling, something we might call the artful way of travelling. This ‘artful travelling’ is focused on one aspect and one aspect alone: knowledge. Knowledge is key for the ‘artful traveler’.
At the level of knowledge, there seem to be four possible positions if one travels: the not-knowing, the know-a-little, the informed, and the expert. In our view only the first and the two last positions can provide appropriate satisfaction. It might seem strange that the not-knowing position can provide satisfaction, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise. If one doesn’t understand or know a thing about a given cultural element, then the seeing and experiencing of cultural ‘foreign’ elements is able to provide satisfaction as such. In this case the experience of it being foreign, a beyond understanding, is in itself satisfactory.
There is only one position that is associated with lesser satisfaction and this is the know-a little or the I know a little, but not enough. If a person is ‘stuck’ in this position, one finds itself in a sort of twilight zone. One knows not enough to fully appreciate the cultural element, but one knows too much to be amazed by a lack of understanding.
The purpose of the culture files
And this is were our culture files find their purpose. Even though they are reviews in one way or another, the prime goal of the culture files is to provide information (historic as well as cultural) to help visitors to attain the position of the informed so they can extract sufficient enjoyment when visiting a certain place. As such, these files are first and foremost visitor guides.
Each guides/review will also have a short introductory historic ‘chapter’, where the most important historic elements of a certain place are highlighted. The historic sketch is to provide the necessary background, so the visitor can situate the importance of a given place and learn which important historical persons are associated with it.
With the new year still ahead of us, we can only hope that some culture files will help some people attain the position of the informed traveler and help enforce their enjoyment, then our mission has succeeded.
[The first Culture File will be about Himeji Castle]