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aesthete
12-10-04, 08:29
The last old cherry tree in my neighborhood has been cut down so that the owner can park her car two meters nearer to her house than before. It means that yet another beautiful Japanese sight has been sacrificed to the true god of Japan: BENRI.

It has been a sad theme of my sixteen years here in Hiroshima. The creep creep of concrete has obliterated unbelievable amounts of green. Each and every lovely traditional house has been destroyed to make way for a plastic-siding square box or a concrete 'mansion'.

Does anyone know anywhere in this country where such things are frowned upon? I am not looking for utopia. Just a community where people are more important than cars, where a nice old garden is considered a benefit in life.

Many Japanese people have an enviable ability to focus their attention to a narrow beam. They can sit you down and ask you to admire their tiny garden while the highway traffic is so near that you can't hear yourself think and the concrete buildings on all sides totally block out the sun.

Is there anywhere in this country where the occasional oasis of green is not considered enough for a whole town, but the lived environment is taken seriously? I'm not talking about an isolated house so far from civilization that you have to drive an hour. I'm thinking of a town or a neighborhood that's just pleasant to breathe in... Where a stroll to the local post office isn't a tunnel of ugliness.

Any ideas?

caesar
12-10-04, 10:04
what's "benri"? money? 0.0

Brooker
12-10-04, 10:30
what's "benri"? money? 0.0

benri = convenience

Sendai is known as "the city of trees". I went through there on a Shinkansen ride recently and did notice that it seemed to have more trees than your average J-city, but still few compared to what I'm used to in the Western U.S. Don't know much about what it would be like to walk around there though.

aesthete
12-10-04, 10:35
what's "benri"? money? 0.0

"Benri" gets translated as "useful" or "convenient", but it really has more moral force than those words do in English. In the post-war economy-is-everything society, the word "benri" as a justification for action needs no further explanation.

e.g. "Why did they tear down that whole nice neighborhood and put a four-lane road through it?" "Benri dakara. Now you can drive to the station five minutes faster."