Japanese Attention to Presentation
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Coffee and Cake -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/100 sec, f/3.2, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Coffee and Cake

An important component of Japanese culture is “presentation”, but it can quickly takes a backseat when inconvenient, such as how much of Japan's natural beauty has been disfigured by utility poles, wires, and street signs. (Examples on my blog over the years include: this · this · this · this · this · this.)

So, it's especially nice when presentation is not only remembered, but really done well. The shot above was the after-meal coffee and cake that came with the $10 lunch we had at an out-of-the-way cafe during our trip to Okinawa last weekend.

For $10, we got a big bowl of Okinawa-style soba and rice, five small plates of side dishes, hot tea, coffee, and the light after-meal cake. That's a lot for ten bucks, so you can't expect much along the lines of taste, quality, ambiance, and presentation, but this place had it all. It was wonderful. Seth Godin would approve.

The hotel we stayed at was also first class in this respect. Near the pool they have an open-air building with a variety of plush chairs and couches, reading material, a nice piano, and a well-stocked bar. It was thoughtfully laid out and appointed with tasteful, inviting furnishings, and each table had a floral decoration appropriate to the season...

Suggestions of an Auspicious New Year -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 60 mm — 1/250 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Suggestions of an Auspicious New Year

The thing is, had they not bothered with these little floral displays, no one would have noticed. No one would have thought “geez, this is nice, but somehow incomplete.” Even without these little touches, the place would have been wonderful.

But they did bother. Someone had to come up with an appropriate design, procure the plants, cut and arrange them in the small display vases that also had to be procured, put them out, water them and otherwise maintain them. That's a lot of effort for a marginal improvement in the ambiance, but it hits at the deep-seated respect for “presentation”, and so they did it.

Prior to developing an interest in photography, I would have never noticed them, but now I do notice – and appreciate – such little touches of beauty.

The next day, the little floral displays were different...

Atta Terrace Hotel -- Onna, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 60 mm — 1/500 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

Perhaps they change them every day, or, perhaps weekly; I don't know. Here's a close up, from above, of the newer one, which includes bowed strips of bamboo that also call to mind the New Year season, but in an understated way appropriate to the second week of the year...

desktop background image of small floral display on a table in a common area of the Atta Terrace hotel, Okinawa Japan -- Hints of the Season -- Atta Terrace Hotel -- Onna, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
Hints of the Season
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On the last day of our short trip, we stopped by Shuri Castle, the main castle on Okinawa....

Light Snack Shuri Castle, Okinawa Japan -- Naha, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 60 mm — 1/250 sec, f/5, ISO 2200 — map & image datanearby photos
Light Snack
Shuri Castle, Okinawa Japan

It was almost completely destroyed in WWII's Battle of Okinawa (along with a quarter of the civilian population), but has been rebuilt over the years. Just two years ago, the small royal reception hall where princes would meet visiting dignitaries was rebuilt, and is now a place where visiting tourists can have a some jasmine tea and assorted historically-accurate sweets in a quiet, contemplative setting.


All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

It’s funny that this traditional appreciation for sparse beauty is so different from the more modern Japanese sensibility to smash everything together really close with really bright, garish colors. For example, these two pages about Japanese web design:

http://royal.pingdom.com/2008/12/29/sometimes-japanese-and-western-web-designs-are-very-different/

and

http://royal.pingdom.com/2008/05/08/the-asian-approach-to-web-hosting-site-design/

Japanese magazines look the same: Everything crammed together with no space at all.

— comment by Zachawry on January 10th, 2009 at 1:51am JST (8 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Really like the glazing on that teacup.

— comment by Bob on January 11th, 2009 at 12:01am JST (8 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink
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