14 hours of airtime, 2 hours of airport waiting-time and 2 hours of bus travel – you are officially ready to let is all go. Lucky you’ve arrived at the Four Seasons Tokyo Chinzan-so where you’re greeted by a warm smile, a courteous bow, and staff insistent on toting your luggage. The lobby quickly reminds you of old world comfort and, no matter where you’re from, a fancy home away from home.
Having arrived at night, I wasn’t privy to the lush surroundings, but a rest-free night shuttled in a morning filled with greenery and Japanese cultural icons as far as the eye could see. The US dollar is at an all-time low while the Japanese yen is experiencing a 15-year high and, in spite of feeling a little short on cash, the Four Seasons staff makes you feel like royalty.
Similar to Japanese culture in general, you’ll see things made simpler with technology, but you’ll also be subject to ancient cultural norms like having reverence for high tea, practicing the art of being quiet, and being polite and helpful. Japan is a breathing juxtaposition of cutting edge modernity and architecture, and ancient practices and beliefs. The toilet seats are heated and have no less than four gadgets and buttons, but they still require you to manually flush….moving quickly forward yet holding on to some remnants of the past.
Little three-, five- and seven year old girls run around in traditional garb during Japan’s National Culture Day and twenty-something’s swagger with high hair, tight pants and a rainbow of colors. All are accepted equally and treated kindly – the Four Seasons epitomizes the grace of tradition while providing an embrace of all that is new.