For the Japanese one could say space is unstable. I mean, even the ground is not stable in Japan. You’ll feel an earthquake every other week. Thus time needs to have some stability, the rhythms of life, the year, work, school, the seasons, habits, conventions, rituals and traditions. Time is both fleeting and eternal. Every event, every instance recurs, an its recurrence provides stability. Thus while time flows, the recurrence of elements produce a continuum, a stable ground for existence. French sociologist Augustin Berque has called this “The Mythic Field” a symbolic layer that lies over the Japanese city. The elements that form it are temporal instead of permanent, and it is defined by actions rather than objects. This mythic field consists of local foods, the signs of convenience stores, the vending machines, the fleeting bloom of the cherry-blossom trees, the yearly neighborhood festival, the chimes on the train platforms, Japanese bureaucracy and the emperor. The mythic field contains traditional as well as contemporary elements, and people categorize themselves and their surroundings based on this layer.
I think this “mythic field” might be exactly what I find so comforting about life in Japan (and to an extent also in parts of Southeast Asia, such as the Balinese countryside).