A-un no Kokyuu

What is  it? I don’t know if I know or if I can describe it if I do know. Here’s my best guess: It’s perfect interaction. The ability to know what needs to be done, to know what the people around you will do and to know what you must do – instinctively and immediately. It’s like a basketball team–no time to think, only anticipate and respond… perfectly and naturally.  I’ve seen this ideal best played out in Buddhist temples. (I believe it may be a Buddhist concept). When it occurs it is a thing of beauty to watch.

The other day I was in a ramen shop. Three young people were working there. Aside from greeting customers, the three spoke hardly a word to each other, yet they seemed to move in perfect harmony–preparing bowl after bowl of ramen, rice and various side dishes. Unlike most ramen shops, where each person has a particular job, and harmony is achieved in the Henry Ford method, in this shop each person did the next thing that had to be done–without checking, confirming or making a plan. There was no clear leader. No person did the same job twice in a row. They used the resources–the knives, counter space, and utensils in perfect unison. The timing was never off. No one waited, no one rushed. I could have watched them for hours. It was like a ballet. That to me was a-un no kokyuu. My wife laughed at me. Maybe she was dazzled by my keen understanding of Japanese culture and quick wit. Or maybe I was just wrong…

… anyway, as you can see, the ramen turned out pretty good.

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