Anthony Bourdain has traveled everywhere on the globe, but the Parts Unknown host does play favorites when it comes to destinations.
Among those favorite places is Japan: Bourdain told Maxim he has an “obsession — fascination — with just about everything Japanese.”
In part, he says, it’s because Japan represents an aesthetic so different from the aesthetic of the society and culture in which he grew up. “When I first went to Japan, it was an explosive event for me,” he told Maxim. “It changed my life in very real ways. I went to Tokyo the first time and my head kind of exploded. I compared it to taking my first acid trip: Nothing was ever the same for me.”
So naturally, he kept going back. “I just wanted more of it. If I had to agree to live in one country, or even one city, for the rest of my life, never leaving it, I'd pick Tokyo in a second,” he said. (For the record, if he had to pick one hotel on earth in which to live out his entire life — he’d pick this one in America.)
Specifically, Bourdain told Maxim he admires the Japanese level of precision and discipline — and the openness to learning. “I like very much the notion of ‘beginner's mind,’ where the master shows up every day, no matter how good they are at what they do, assuming that they're a student, they know nothing, and that there's more to learn. I think it's aspirational, in the sense of, I wish I had that attitude,” he said. “Many of the things I love about Japan come from the fact that I recognize that I don't have those things. I don't have those qualities; I don't have the discipline. I don't think the way they do in Japanese flower arranging, for instance. It's almost like stripping away the unnecessary to arrive at the absolute core beauty."
While Bourdain loves the Japanese approach, he knows his personal tendencies deviate from it considerably. "I wish I could unclutter my life in that way, but I tend toward maximalism rather than minimalism. But it's something I really admire," he said. "The attention to detail, the perfectionism, the concentration on what are the most fundamental elements of beauty, pleasure, relaxation.”
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