Best places to travel? Artisan cultures versus Business cultures
You've got the cash and time - now you've got to decide where?
The world is a huge place - where to start? Broadly speaking the world can be divided into a few different cultures; artisan or craftsman cultures like Japan or France, business cultures like mainland China or Singapore, resource countries with lots of nature like Canada and beautiful beaches.
Japan is at the top of my travel destinations - it's the perfect example of an artisan or craftsman culture. In Japan a craftsman will spend his whole life mastering the making of a sword - his goal is to turn out the best sword with the perfect balance of lightness, strength and beauty. There is a respect for the craft of sword-making as an art. Many craftman make very little profit, but are held in awe for their dedication. In China the businessman will try to figure out how to stamp out a lot of swords at the best price point. Respect and success are measured in maximizing the profit even if it requires taking short-cuts.
The ethic of the craftsman or businessman spills over into each country's travel industries.You've heard stories about Japanese people committing suicide out of embarrassment. As craftsman Japanese hosts hate to make mistakes or overlook details. Quality is paramount. They take great care to provide personalized service, Careful forethought is put into even minor detail. Tips are not accepted. Exceptional service is part of the craftsman ethos.
In China you get what you pay for. The businessman carefully weighs his costs against his expected profits always with an eye to maximizing his bottom line. Business cultures tend to value only one thing - the size of your wallet. Conversation inevitably spiraling to just one topic money making and spending. Relationships formed with solely profit potential in mind.
There is a richness and depth to artisan culture. Beauty the goal of the craftsmen has many dimensions. The intricacies of the tea ceremony, flower arranging, growing miniature bonsai trees, pottery making or cuisine or craft brewing. For the craftsman life becomes art. What does life as art mean? An artist needs to find his inspiration and voice.
Hide is a master of "tougo", Japanese pottery making. Even though propane is much cheaper, he uses only hardwood to hand-fire his pottery kiln because it makes the best pottery. He knows it doesn't make business sense, but his ultimate alliance is to perfecting his art even though his wife complains about the expense.
Restaurants take great pride in their offerings. I'm reminded here of France where some of the finest restaurants make less profit than a fast food restaurant because they hate to scrimp on the delicious but expensive ingredients like truffles.
As craftsman, Japanese take great care in the packaging of goods and experience.
Talking about money is a little dirty - the relationship is paramount. My tutoring students never paid me directly in cash instead putting the money in a beautiful envelope that they slipped to me discreetly each month.
And there's more - with Canada-like undeveloped Hokkaido in the North and tropical Okinawa in the South, there's lots of nature and incredible beaches.
If you want to discover a wonderful artisan culture, enjoy nature and incredible beaches I recommend visiting Japan.
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