This past spring, I was thrilled and honored by the invitation from JALO (Japan Association of Life Organizers) President, Mayumi Takahara to give two presentations and participate in a panel for the 2014 JALO conference in Yokohama. My ICD colleague, Vickie Dellaquila was also invited to present and we had the joy of being there together along with our husbands.
JALO has an amazing group of people. They are warm, gracious, and fun! I loved sharing my expertise and learning about organizing challenges in Japan. It was an extraordinary trip and I’m so grateful to Mayumi for offering me this opportunity.
Prior to leaving, my balance was way off due to competing demands and responsibilities. During the trip my balance continued to teeter as I adjusted to a new culture for almost two weeks and time zone (14 hours ahead.) Even still, it felt normal and positive being off balance as I experienced the new sights, sounds, scents, tastes, places, people, and things.
There were a few things that I observed while away. There was a wonderful mix of serenity, organization, and humor in the Japanese culture. My husband and I traveled to three cities- Yokohama, Kyoto, and Tokyo. In each place we found peaceful spots like trickling water fountains, gardens, and temples. Organization showed up in many areas such as the excellent train systems. And humor appeared when you least expected it with interesting architectural details, funny advertisements, or oversized anime characters (live or as statues).
Some things I loved included:
- Heated toilet seats
- Heated train seats
- Right-sized furniture (for the under 5’ set)
- Deep bathtubs with armrests
- Friendly people
- Excellent sound and visual systems
- Cleanliness (the cleanest country I’ve ever visited)
- Beautiful displays
- Right-sized portions (always felt well fed, but never stuffed)
- Gorgeous landscapes
- Interesting architecture
- Wonderful signage
- Sparkly lights
- Easy to understand train systems
- No tipping
- Service-oriented culture
- Creative organization in unexpected places (with hotel toiletries, supplies, and snacks) integration of design and function everywhere
As this year comes to a close and the winter season arrives, I’m focused on restoring balance. My routines for work and sleep aren’t quite back to normal. It’s a great opportunity to rethink what worked, let go of what didn’t, and move forward in a balanced, purposeful way.