I think the simplicity of the Japanese life – at least as it was when I was reading about it – is very appealing. Very little in the way of possessions, just one or two special things to be showcased in a special place in the home. The beauty of life lay not in things, but in art and nature and traditional ceremony. (I’ve never been to a Japanese tea ceremony, but I hope that from my readings I’d know some of the proper etiquette for the occasion.)
Not everyone can have or even needs things, but beauty and ceremony are always needed, and are ours to see and enjoy for (usually!) free. In the ages where the Roman Catholic Church would impose an interdict on a country, the people there mourned the loss of the ceremony of the sacraments. Religious ceremony, even a funeral, was one of the few things that enlivened otherwise mundane lives. Today many people separate themselves from any religious ceremony, but that may be part and parcel of the abundant availability of other things to do on a Sunday morning.
In this era the television brings us most of the ceremonies we see. Royal weddings, inaugurations, this New Year’s Eve in Times Square, major sporting events – even the Daytona 500 – involve not only the moment itself, but the ceremony surrounding it. We think we’ve come a long way since the days of the interdicts, but really we’re quite the same. We don’t need stuff but we do need and love ceremony.
Let’s all go see a parade! Rose Bowl anyone?