What do Israelis gain by delving into Japanese culture?

Israelis, I’m discovering fast, have a lot to teach me about the nation and the culture I lived amongst for thirty years. I choose my words carefully when I say “amongst.” To live with the Japanese traditions day in and out with the goal of perfecting one of their classic art forms is something that to my great surprise I find that Israelis take seriously when they go to Japan to study one of the traditional arts.

I’m in the process now of writing on this topic. Geographically speaking, culturally, linguistically and religiously speaking, even I can’t think of two more different mindsets than that of Israelis and Japanese. Israelis are emotionally demonstrative to a fault whereas Japanese are so reserved that one can easily mistaken typical Japanese reserve for national depression.

Then again, to meet Japanese artists is a powerful way to break through a veneer of correctness and untouchability and get to know their creative and light-filled ways of living. That was what I thought in the three decades I interviewed Japanese artists and artisans whose passion for their life work made writing their stories down one of the joys of my life.

Now here come a very unexpected twist of fate. I’m about to interview and write up the stories of Israelis who went to Japan and were transformed by the experience of opening up to the Japanese heart and soul of creativity that comes with teaching what they know. Some teachers have students. Some lecture. Some create the most thrilling youtubes imaginable.

Tonight this question leads me to look at some beautiful sites showing the work of Japanese artists I never knew about when I lived in Japan. Tomoko Fuse, a world-class paper-folding artist, is one artist I would have loved to interview and get to know. Her work is breathtaking, monumental, subtle as she takes origami to new heights.


What do you think?

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