ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Atithi Devo Bhava in Japan

As a society, the Japanese exhibit exquisite politeness and immeasurable hospitality in the manner in which they deal with visitors and guests. 

A medical conference finds me in Kumamoto, an impor- tant, nevertheless peaceful, city in the Kyushu island of Japan. We are kilometres away from the Mount Aso volcano, one of Japan’s several active volcanos, and minutes after we land, on a quiet Monday morning, she blows quite unexpectedly, despatching ash over 2 km high, succeeding in closing the local airport for a day. Mercifully, there are no casualties and having reminded us of her lurking presence, Mount Aso seems quite content to permit us visitors an unblemished sojourn. 

The highlight of Kumamoto is its castle, one of Japan’s three major castles. Built first by Kato Kiyomasa in 1607, it was destroyed in the Seinan war of 1877 and lovingly restored in 1970. With a beautiful museum that narrates the cultural history of Japan over five floors, the castle houses some exquisite works of art such as the “Hanging Scrolls” painted by the artist Yano Sesso (1714–77) depicting the rising sun and an eagle. These scrolls combine the arts of painting and calli­graphy and are mounted on a silk and special paper. With rooms set aside for each activity of the ruler and his retainers, including one for the traditional tea ceremony, an elaborate Japanese ritual for guests, the castle exemplifies the culture and traditions of this wonderful, many-splendoured land.

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