On Friday March 11, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Eastern Japan, creating a tsunami which caused an enormous amount of damage. Some of the worst hit areas in Japan are very close to our hearts as we have many friends up there and my wife actually lived in the Sendai area for almost 2 years. At this difficult time I have to confess that my mind wasn't on the label and its relevant news. However, I ended up reading through some interviews we started in the Japan series I had done before the earthquake, starting off with the Lawrence English interview a few months ago. Its just so good to see what Japan means to people on a very personal level, through their different experiences. When so much of the news and 'support' feels alien and impersonal, reading these words has been a light in the distance.
So, the second interview in our Japan series is with Preservation head and all round man of loveliness, Andrew Khedoori...
1.) When did you first come to Japan?
We went for the first time only last year (2010) in late June/early July
2.) Did you have any preconceptions before first coming? How were these similar or different to what you actually experienced in Japan?
I did a lot of research so I felt I knew what we would be (kinda) up for in terms of getting around, finding and seeing places and sites and eating. Still, the experience itself was way more than the sum of those parts.
3.) Have you been back since then?
We'd love to! But not just yet
4.) Which places have you visited in Japan? Do you have a favourite?
We went to Osaka, Kyoto (visiting Himeji and Nara from there), Hiroshima and Tokyo. I think overall we were charmed the most by Kyoto - its blend of traditional/old-word and modern Japan was something we loved and felt just right, and it felt the humblest of the places we visited with a village-like atmosphere to it.
5.) Would you say Japan has influenced you in anyway? If so, how?
The one thing that really stood out about Japan to us was its people - everyone we came across was so lovely and so many were passionate about what they did and things they had to offer. In a multi-cultural society like Australia's, you get a lot of differing approaches and attitudes wherever you turn on a daily basis. This can be great of course, but were were really taken by the shared sense of purpose in seemingly everyone we met.
6.) What are some of your favourite things in Japan?
Once again, just the passion of everyone with what they do - their stores, restaurants, gardens and parks, design, the love of art - a really valued thing there - it's a very giving culture.
7.) Do you have have personal recommendations for people who are visiting Japan?
We loved the homestyle cooking of Obanzi in Kyoto. The izakaya on the 52nd floor of the Sumitomo Building in Tokyo. The one at the bottom of a hotel in Shibuya (I can look these up if you like Ian!). The fresh seafood restaurant next to our hotel. The tiny but crammed record stores all over. The Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, the mountain hikes and outdoor onsen at the end of it. The moss gardens. Cow Books!
8.) What do you think of Japan's music scene? How does it compare to other places in your opinion?
There's a great range of creativity going on and seemingly singular - while there's an absorbption of sounds from all over the world, everything has a unique feel to me; a kind of force to it that's not quite urgent as such but just ever present and definitive.
9.) Could you imagine living in Japan? Where would you like to live if you could?
It sounds like a nice idea! I'd have to learn some of the language though - I think it'd be practically impossible otherwise. I might find Tokyo a little too overwhelming to live in on a daily basis, so maybe Kyoto?
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