Traveling to Japan was by far one of the greatest experiences of my life. Visiting Japan has influenced me think about things differently. Although not a Japanese American myself, the trip has furthered my desire to play a contributing role within the Japanese American society of Hawai‘i.
Here are five short reasons why I fell in love with Japan:
- The People. The people are so kind, polite, and gentle. For one thing, I felt safe everywhere I went, even by myself in an unfamiliar place. Another, I felt as though people wanted to continuously help me wherever I went. There was always an offer of help in any situation where I looked confused. For example, I was looking for manju and asked a worker if a box of food was manju. I explained, in English, that I was looking for manju to share with my family, and the worker pointed out, with a smile, how to read manju in Japanese, that way I could recognize it in the future (まんじゅう). There was respect for everyone everywhere we went, from the way people bowed to each other, and thanked each other numerous times. The kindness and selflessness of the Japanese people was further exemplified by Ichikawa-san, Frank, Oya, Miyo, and Takao. Each went above and beyond in helping us in all that we had to do. When I lost my portable wifi, Ichi-san went out of his way to help me in recovering it. This is something that I deeply appreciated and will not forget. The kindness and helpfulness of the Japanese people is one that should be admired by all.
- The Food. The food in Japan was by far the greatest food I have ever tasted in my life. Anyone may pick up on the fact that there is a tremendous amount of effort put into making and creating food. I could taste the sweet and savory flavor with each bite I took. I cannot forget the vending machines that were within almost every block of each other. I was amazed to see that the vending machines disperse warm drinks, such as hot coffee! The quality of the food, and the way that it is presented emphasizes the effort and time taken to make the food presentable and delicious.
3. The Scenery. The scenery was simply amazing, to say the least. One moment, I felt as though we were in the bustling city, and in the next moment, we were in a serene and tranquil place with waterfalls and beautiful Ume blossoms. Something that I noticed was how clean and beautiful the streets of Japan are. Although there were not many trash cans present on the streets, the Japanese people still work together to keep their streets beautiful and litter free.
4. The Packaging. Like almost everything in Japan, there was an emphasis on the aesthetic beauty of packing of things. Everything was aesthetically beautiful–from the labels on the plastic drink bottles to the items in the packages we purchased. When I bought something, they would place a piece of tape to close the package, which definitely made it easier to hold all the packages together. Special care is taken to ensure that foods are packaged neatly and elegantly, which is also seen in how they present their food.
5. The Culture. As stated in my previous reasons, the culture of Japan is so beautiful and rich. From the bowing and greetings, to the gift giving and respectfulness of the Japanese, every aspect of the culture is so beautiful and exquisite. Unlike “Hawaiian Time,” which means one is usually running late, the Japanese are always five to ten minutes early, which shows how they are respectful of other people’s time. There is a huge sense of humility and respect within the culture. At stores and restaurants, you are greeted with smiles and welcome phrases. The young are always respectful of the elderly, which is seen through their bows and the way that they structure their sentences. The Japanese culture is so beautiful–the values and morals that the Japanese are instilled with are seen throughout their everyday lives. The pride in their culture is further emphasized in how they treat others, prepare their food, and take care of their country.
I put together a short video that encompasses most of the places that we visited while in Japan. It begins with our arrival at Tokyo-Narita Airport on Friday, the 24th. I included various scenery of Japan, from the buildings we saw while riding on the bus to actual places that we visited. Everything that we saw was breathtaking, and there wasn’t a single moment where I was not amazed by the simplicities of Japan. While traveling and visiting various places, I felt as though Japan was always one step ahead of the game. This was seen through their creativity in serving food, their technology, purchasing items, and simply the ways in which Japan is structured. I learned a tremendous amount from all of the places that we visited.
The places that we visited truly emphasized the pride Japanese people have in their home and in their culture. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to have visited Japan, as it really was an honor to have been welcomed into the country. Thank you to JICE, Ichikawa-san, Miyo, Takao, Frank, & Oya, Patsy & Christine, the museum guides, the Kyushu University students, and to everyone who made this trip possible and a success. It was amazing to see how much the Japanese culture has transformed to the present day local Japanese culture of Hawai‘i. There are so many similarities between the Japanese and Japanese American culture, yet there are so many differences. The two cultures are unique, and being able to first-handedly experience the Japanese culture are moments I will not forget (anata koto wo wasurenai, 日本).