Kyoto, Japan

A short evening flight of 1 ½ hours took us from Beijing over Seoul (which is completely lit up at night and looks like a giant mega-city from the air) into Kansei airport near Osaka in Japan. The train ride to Kyoto took almost the same time as the flight and the Japanese train compartment almost felt like we were on another aircraft.

We travelled through what seemed like a never-ending city. The land along the route of the trains here are so densely populated that you don’t know when you pass from one town to another.

On Saturday afternoon, we had the first briefing for the N7W event on Tuesday. This was no ordinary briefing, but rather a meeting with the whole organizing committee—eight people came to meet us. All very nice people with charisma and enthusiasm in their eyes. Suddenly, what may sometimes be seen as an anonymous atmosphere in Japan became, to us, a very warm-hearted and personal encounter.

Japan is the country of refinement! And no detail is unimportant or left without proper care. This starts, of course, with a ceremony like the exchange of business cards, or as I used to say, “visit” cards (in German, they are called “Visitenkarten”) and the handing over of small, attentive gifts to guests or visitors. I had the feeling that it was a genuine gesture because the many things, starting with artistically wrapped food and sweets to maps and books of Kyoto and Kiyomizu Temple were given to us with such enthusiasm that it all ended with big smiles and laughs. Since we had come directly from China and would still be travelling for many weeks, we only had our N7W World Tour pins and postcards to give our hosts—these were, however, very much appreciated and everyone immediately put them on their lapels to show their full commitment to New7Wonders.

It’s a wonderful feeling to see that you are not only nicely welcomed, but that your hosts are also prepared to actively participate in the N7W campaign.

On Monday, the preparations went on with a comprehensive visit to the temple and a complete briefing of the ceremonies on location. And, of course, the little gifts of food, sake and sweets were not missing … It reminded me of visiting my grandmother, who always gave me a bag with goodies when we parted—for her, this was a true show of love, since food was not taken for granted after the war in Europe.

In the beautiful fall afternoon, we did some TV interviews in the magnificent park/garden of the temple. One young couple came in beautiful traditional outfits to celebrate their second wedding anniversary. It is great to see that, in Japan, tradition is still honored by young people in their daily lives. A very special pride shone on their faces!