J A P A N - Katie Gong


By Katie Gong

J A P A N - Katie Gong

Japan has always been on my bucket list of places to go.  After going to a very small portion of the country I can't wait to go back. We were there only 9 days and could have stayed so much longer.  



We didn't really know what to expect, we had a limited number of days that we could go and didn't want to overload the trip with a lot of extra travel.  So we flew into Tokyo and then took the bullet train to Kyoto and then back to Tokyo. If I had to do it again I would have either allotted more travel time or just done one place. It felt like we had 1-2 days in a place and then moved and the pace of it felt really fast.   



There were so many highlights! Really the whole trip was amazing, my favorite part was the Japanese culture.  Everyone was so nice and sweet, it really opened my eyes to how we/I can treat and interact with people in a way that is less frustrating but more calm.  They have such an ease to their culture and interactions that I just loved. Every time you interacted with someone it was very kind, "sumimasen sumimasen" which translates to "Excuse me, Excuse me". People went out of their way to communicate in a pleasant and careful demeanor.  


In regards to design, as we planned the trip, I was really hoping to see new materials and new ideas as far as applications go.  I saw some really smart and minimal touches in both Japanese architecture and design. 


The simplicity of the materials was surprising to me. We stayed in a few traditional style hotels/airbnbs and on the surface everything was super polished but when I looked closer I noticed the use of really raw and natural materials, such as hay in the walls, trees as beams, ect.  Really surprising and clever.  



In upcoming work, I’m excited to use inspiration from Japanese simplicity and shapes! I noticed a lot of new ideas and techniques, and how to do more with what you have direct access to, in terms of materials and resources. 



One big thing I wish I had done differently was to bring less stuff with me.  I had way too many clothes and items that were a little hard in moving around the country. I also would have loved to stay for a longer duration. If you are planning a trip, I’d go for at least 15 days.

Hope you find your own inspiration from our trip! Check out all the places we stayed below.

Arigato Gozaimasu

- Katie



Tokyo Little House: 1948 home in heart of the city



Kyoto’s Traditional Villa - Noboru House Kyoto


Cyashitsu Ryokan Asakusa, Tokyo