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the lunch my mother never made me

October 26, 2009

[NYTimes] When coming back to Tokyo from abroad, my first impression usually is: What a dull airport! And yet it’s clean, neat and the floors deeply polished. To the Japanese eye, there’s a particular sense of beauty in the work of the cleaning staff. It’s in the craftman’s spirit — “shokunin kishitsu” — which applies to all Japanese professionals, be they street construction workers, electricians or cooks.

This spirit, I think, imbues people with a sense of beauty, as in elaboration, delicacy, care, simplicity (words I often use). Obviously, this also applies to bento-making and the pride people take in making them as beautiful as they can.

A central aesthetic principle in Japan is simplicity, but it is different from simplicity in the West. (read)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2009 2:18 pm

    thank you for making me nostalgic 🙂
    and very interesting comments as well, not to mention the honorable Denis Dutton who made me laugh: comparing bento with American Mickey Mouse lunchboxes and seeing virtually no difference, this is indeed no small feat.

  2. October 26, 2009 3:40 pm

    i too was rather shocked by what i thought were Dutton’s rather uninsightful (read: “ignorant”) comments. what is unsettling about this is that his book Art Instinct is all the rave these days, so i don’t think it untoward to have expected a more penetrating analysis from him.

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