The Art of Hosting

Art of Hosting: A Way of Being in Japan

I'm back in Japan.  Gathered this weekend, once again, in Kiyosato where we held two major art of hostings in Japan last year.  Mt.  Fuji still sits with majesty on the horizon.  The food is still excellent.  The onsen is once again very hot.  AND, much has changed.


I've been in Japan for four days.  Listening, sensing, trying to understand what is present here -- what is possible here -- that was not possible before.

Last night, around a fire, some of us gathered to talk about the art of hosting journey in Japan.  I left after one cafe round, jet lag and too much listening filled my brain to the point of overflowing.  But, ah, that first round...


A strong sense that Art of Hosting is "simply" a way of being with one's self and with each other.  When I starting doing this work in Japan last year, I found myself saying things like "this is the first time Art of Hosting has come to Japan AND, it was born here.


There is something about the subtle and profound grounding in Shinto which permeates Japan.  It shows up as this deep appreciation of the interconnectedness of life.  It shows up in Tea Ceremony, in Ikebana, and yes, even in Sumo.  It is a way of being.  One friend asked me what was difference was in Art of Hosting in Japan and elsewhere in the world.  In Japan, I think, it is this rapid remembering that we know how to be with each other.  We know how to be in respectful, supportive relationship.  Some of this has been forgotten or set aside over the last 50 or 100 years, but it is still deeply present.  The Art of Hosting challenge in Japan is to learn how to use this deep quality of beingness to now act together in new ways -- to create a new future, now.

I arrived in at Narita Tuesday night. Escalators turned off, lights dimmed.  a quietness, a subdued energy present.  Driving in to Tokyo with street lights off and building lights turned off, it was like coming in to a different reality.  The difference was at a way of being level, an energetic one.

On wednesday i had my first meeting, with about 6 people i know pretty well.  it was the first time any of them has shared their own inner turmoil since 3/11.  ALL of Japan has been affected.  of course, the deepest disaster is in the Tohoku region and I have not been there yet -- and don't know if i will go there.  I won't unless there is a specific reason to be there.  Wednesday night we had about 80 people together in the first Japan Dialogue event. same as with the afternoon, it was the first time most people had an opportunity to share their inner experience.

Tokyo is quieter; people sensing that everything has changed now, and they are still not sure what now is. Normal is gone.  Forever.  And what exists now is a blind spot, waiting to be visible.

The change is an energetic one. And I'm not just talking about the lights turned off everywhere and the rolling blackouts -- although there is also a dramatically shifted sense there too.  People  saying things like "we have less energy and life is better now."  Or "I'm spending more time with my family and my sense of what is important to me is different now."  there's a sense of wanting new indicators for success.  We're even talking about Gross National Happiness as a measure -- something almost unimaginable in Japan before 3/11.

Let me share one image from a couple of days ago.  I was in a meeting with many 35 business people in Tokyo.  And, of course, we were meeting in World Cafe.  This has just become the normal way to meet for so many people in Japan over the last year.  The three hour meeting began with a very cautious kind of energy.  It was also the first time this  group  had been together since the disasters started.  By the time we closed, there was a real excitement in the room.  I sensed in to what the excitement was really about.  The image I shared was that the disasters have liberated us from a future we didn't want to have, AND the future is no longer something distant, it is here, now.


Much is in motion here.  I'm so glad, and honored to be here now...

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Comment by Bob Stilger on April 19, 2011 at 11:35am
Thanks so much for sharing these, Ria.  Just today (well, yesterday now), we launched a small website for this conversation about what's happening in Japan:
Comment by Ria Baeck on April 19, 2011 at 4:42am
Bob has been sending emails out to lots of his friends about his experiences in Japan right now. I find them of immense value and have been publishing them on my own blog - at least some of them. You might want to read them there, it starts with this one.


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