Boredom can drive a person crazy.

That’s exactly why we like to keep busy, moving ahead and coming up with new ideas. We’re on a constant and never-ending search for inspiration. In fact, we’d travel across the entire world just to get a little of it….and we often do.

Travel is one of our biggest sources of inspiration. The chance to experience other cultures – and the sights, sounds, smells and insights that come with it – always gives us a constant flow of ideas. It influences the clothes we make. One of the places we find particularly inspirational is Japan. It seems as though each time we go there, it ends up being an entirely new experience….there’s always something new to discover. And our most recent trip to Tokyo was no different.

Getting Lost in Tokyo

The thing about Tokyo in particular is that it’s really just impossible to be indifferent to it. The craziness. The people everywhere. The lights. The action. The energy. Have you ever heard someone say they thought Tokyo was just OK? HELL NO – Because no one in their right mind would ever say that. And if they did, it’s probably because they’re dead inside. It’s either you love it, or it’s just too much for you. There’s no in between.

Getting Lost in Tokyo

Moreover, it’s really hard to feel indifferent about Japan in general. Japanese culture – the art, the food, the architecture – all have a very attractive, and dare we say, sexy quality to them. I mean, it’s literally impossible to wander around the shrines of Kyoto, or in the Zen gardens, and not find them breathtaking. It’s impossible to not find Japanese calligraphy and art beautiful.

"Try as you may, it's very hard to feel indifferent about Japan"

Part of the reason why we find all those things beautiful is because they seem to embrace imperfection. And in our opinion, that’s what makes Japanese art, and Japan in general, so amazing – because it embraces imperfections, roughness and asymmetry. It respects things as they naturally are, rather than trying to manipulate them or turn them in to something else. It believes things should be as simple as possible – but no simpler. In Japan, this philosophy is known as wabi sabi. In fact, we’ve actually integrated that wabi sabi philosophy in to some of our recent collections – you can see it’s influence in pieces like IVER and LEON.

But by far the most important and inspirational thing that happened on our most recent trip to Japan, took place in a tiny sushi restaurant in the middle of Shibuya, in Tokyo. After several long days of running around in the madness that is Tokyo, we finally had some chill time, and decided to make our way in to the seemingly endless mazes of tiny yokochos – ‘alleyways’ in Japanese.

getting lost in tokyo
Tokyo
Getting Lost in Tokyo

We proceeded to wander around for awhile, until we finally went in to a small, but extremely good-looking sushi and sashimi bar. And when we say small, we mean small. There were 7 seats. In fact, calling it a ‘hole in the wall’ would be a much more accurate description. But it doesn’t really matter what it’s called, because we’re extremely glad we found this place. It was absolutely incredible.

And the most memorable part about the whole meal was not a particular dish or piece of sushi. Instead, it was the chef himself. He was a tiny Japanese man, perhaps about 80-90 years old. The way he moved, the way he prepared the food…everything indicated he’d been doing it for a lifetime. And chances are, he had.

He also spoke a little english, so after we finished our meal, we asked him, “Why does it take so long to become a sushi chef?”

He stopped what he was doing, paused for a few moments, looked us dead in the eyes, and finally said, “Because if a flower is to be beautiful, it must be cultivated”.

And that was it. He then went right back to precisely cutting fish in silence…

So we left.

Admittedly, that wasn’t really the answer we were looking for. Neither was it the one we’d expected. But the thing is, it made a hell of a lot more sense after we went back to the hotel, slept, woke up the next day and thought about it a bit more. The implication of that one sentence is a lesson in patience. Anything worthwhile takes a long time to develop and ‘cultivate’. And the thing is, ‘cultivating a flower’ is never really over. It’s a never-ending process.

We’ll probably remember that phrase, and that lesson, for the rest of our lives. But despite that, I personally don’t think we’ll ever really know Japan, or Japanese culture. It’s just so complex. There are just so many different dynamics, historical factors and complicated social norms that make it what it is today. It’ll probably remain something that can be admired from far away, but will forever remain impossible to get close to, or even touch.

You know…just like your ex creeping through your Instagram photos.

 

 

Here are a few more photos from our trip…

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