I stayed in LA's Japanese section of town less than 1 week before the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear issues. I enjoyed eating Japanese food, drinking tea, and even watching Japanese TV later that night. It was the most I've ever been surrounded by Japanese culture in one 24-hour period. It made me want to go to Japan someday. Now since the disasters I'm a little bit ashamed to admit it's not as high up on my travel wish list. :(
Today I happened upon a Japanese phrase that is very interesting. It's Wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi "nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect." The cultures that have been around for centuries always seem to have very interesting ways of looking at life.
I remember a very good explanation of the Zen way of thinking. I can't remember who said it, but it's a perfect way to describe it. The person was saying that someone asked if thinking of God while peeling potatoes was a Zen mindset. They explained, "no, it's just peeling the potatoes."