YouTube’s algorithms did well last night. It recommended that I and my love watch this 4K HDR video of a Christmas Lights Walk in Roppongi, by the YouTube channel “Virtual Japan.”
Watching it, you enjoy the lights, the 4K HDR quality of the video, which renders the scene more lovely, and more visible, in some respects, than if your own shoes were touching the sidewalks and pavements of Roppongi on that moonlit night.
And you enjoy more than lights, because what is lit by the lights, and who created the lights, and quietly celebrate them in the video, is the most graceful, kind, and civilized culture on Earth at the moment.
We foreigners have something to learn from Japan.
Notice what you don’t see on this walk, which you might expect to see in a walk around video in New York City, London, Mexico City, or virtually any other metropolis on earth except Tokyo.
You’re probably already aware, already imagining, or seeing, scenes from another metropolis I’ve mentioned. And maybe like me you also easily imagine the behaviors and attitudes which are beautifully missing from the Roppongi video, right?
Instead you see a graceful people who produce and enjoy a direct human aesthetic, who follow norms and rules, and who treat each other with respect. They’ve calibrated the balance between individual freedoms and responsibilities.
They know how to live.
They know how to live together.
I don’t know how this kind and graceful and calmly loving culture has been created.
But I know from years of personal experience that these remarkable conditions are real. (I lived and worked in the metropolis of Nagoya for 7 years, and I can vouch that you could ride the spotless subway to any station in the city, and walk among lights, or blossoms, or red light district, or among apartment blocks of working class or professional class neighborhoods, completely without fear of violent crime. More than that: in general, overwhelmingly, people were kind, and respectful, and sensible.)
And I know that it’s admirable and attractive to me.
When we colonize Mars, today’s Japanese model of society should inform the blueprint.
I want to return to Japan, and to live there again. I still dream of it, years later. I wonder if I will return; other values, concerns, and obligations also weigh against that decision.
I like to think I will. And I felt a shift, watching the video. I felt sure I will return, one day, later if not sooner.
Until then, I’ll make do with virtual walk-arounds.
What these videos show is as remarkable and as worthy of gratitude and admiration as the human ambition, already being realized, to become an interplanetary species.
I hope you enjoy the videos you’ll find at that Channel. And do you also feel a pull of hope or desire for kinder, more graceful and civilized culture?