They say travelling alone can change your life. It is advice that I received time and again: ‘The best way to travel is to travel alone.’
And so, I decided to visit a country that had long fascinated me – Japan. What was to follow were a series of serendipitous events and encounters .
What makes Japan so fascinating is that through centuries of a stated policy of isolationism, it has developed into a unique modern society firmly rooted in its history. The past and present blend seamlessly within it.
Take Mt. Fuji, for instance. It lies just about 100 kilometers from Tokyo, a modern metropolis in every sense of the word. This definitive symbol of Japanese identity, however, is rooted in history and tradition. Surrounded by shrines and temples, climbing the volcanic mountain is considered a religious experience by the Japanese people, akin to a pilgrimage. I had arrived at Mt. Fuji following a chance meeting with a woman named Tamiyo Hashimoto, who insisted that I make the trip up and accompanied me on it.
On the way up we discussed food, the Japanese obsession with flowers and the meanings ascribed to them, and of course, the holy mountain. Once back, we headed to the food markets to grab something to eat and this is when the serendipitous encounters began.
I ordered something called Osikehan from the menu. Though it was a simple looking dish – consisting of red adzuki beans and red sticky rice - it reminded me of rajma chawal back home. I devoured it.
The following day, we went for a ‘flower walk’ in suburban Tokyo to a camellia garden, commissioned by the Japanese royal family nearly half a century ago. Dotted with thousands of camellia trees, it had hundreds of varieties of the remarkable flower, in seemingly endless rows. Tamiyo, who accompanied me on this visit told me about the historic importance of the Tsubaki, as it is known in Japan. She also mentioned that its oil was used in beauty regimens by women in her family.
Now, a few weeks had passed since I had returned from the trip to Japan. I was browsing through Instagram, and something caught my eye. They were the words - Adzuki Bean. I discovered Global Beauty Secrets and found that not only had they incorporated the Japanese Adzuki bean into an exfoliating facewash, but that the Camellia flower also found its place within their range of products, in the form of an illuminating cream. It was an encounter that took me right back to my memorable vacation in Japan. With their products, I could keep a small part of Japan with me in my home. Storing a memory in a bottle; what can be better than that!