I think what struck me the most about the Japan (as an aspirational scientist) was the level of quality and artistry readily present. Japanese engineering is world-class but that applies even to the smallest one-person crafting. Some very old crafts are still being manufactured in Ishikawa with the help of modern technology.
You may know about Japanese lacquerware if you’ve had Miso soup at a restaurant, but those are cheap knock-offs of what was once a very timeless item. Real lacquerware is still hand-made in Noto, and is tough enough to last for generations. We visited the Wajima Kirimoto Lacquerware factory and were stunned at the level of expertise at work to create some of the highest quality dinnerware probably in the world. They are even creating some newer processes to complement a modern kitchen, such as scratch-proof lacquer.
In the consumables category, there is artistry and mastery well at work. In Ukawa, we had a chance to stop into the Tsuruno Sake Brewery for a tour and tasting. The 200-year-old building has housed 12 generations of the same family of brewers, with a team of workers creating some of the best Sake in the region. Nearby in Yanami, Australian chef Ben Flatt and his wife Chikako Funashita have created a world-class fusion restaurant and hotel which is booked up around a year in advance. They serve a full-course dining experience cooked with fresh produce grown on their hotel grounds overlooking the eastern coast of Noto.