Ichigo ichie--Every meeting is a once in a lifetime chance
If you're lucky you will learn the meaning of "ichigo ichie" when you first come to Japan. I really learned and understood its deep meaning after nearly 20 of living in Japan! I clearly remember the young hip kid who said it to me outside his gallery space in Kyoto in say 2006 or so . . .
Recently, I saw it again on a mid-tier Nara ryokan website while making a reservation there (for a couple from New Zealand who had sailed to Japan! ).
"We cherish each and every encounter with our customers as a once in our life time event."
"Ichigo ichie" [EECHEE-GO EECHEE-EH] references the absolute sincerity of Japanese people.
In a traditional Japanese mindset nothing is casual when it comes to encounters between people.
One explanation for this sincerity lies in the understanding that Japan is a very very tribal society and for hundreds if not thousands of years every valley was a different "country" . . . each tribe inhabiting a different valley and river system and living as hunters / gathers and eventually farmers and handicrafters . . .
This expression then also plays a huge significance when a Japanese person encounters a foreigner (tourist or not) . . . It is a major moment and for the most part Japanese are still very shy, careful and quiet.
At the same time it is also an opportunity for spiritual communion and connection . . . to which the Japanese are extremely receptive.
So when you are travelling in Japan do remember and say Ichigo Ichie and see what conversations and connections you make.
But don't do it without heart! Be there fully when you say it and be humble if you can . . .
Content courtesy of Your Japan Private Tours & Japan travel expert Ian Ropke . . . Going to Japan? Save time & improve the quality of your time and use our interesting range of solutions to travel in Japan . . .