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Archive for January, 2006

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One week to go…

Saturday, January 28th, 2006

Backpack…check. A couple of paperbacks…check. Map…check. Guidebook…already read it and gave it away. Maybe I’ll write my own when I get there. Where is there? Pretty much the rest of what I haven’t seen. Since I’ve seen primarily the US, Canada, Costa Rica, Japan, and Tijuana(cringe), the “rest” is a lot. As I’m wrapping up my beautiful life here in Japan, I’m beginning to realize that I’m not the placeless nomad that my friend’s back home have labeled me. I’ve become able to meld to all places. With soaring confidence I am jumping off this island into the vast expanse of Asia. The place that once intimidated me to no end with it’s overwhelming foreign strangeness has captured me. I’m addicted.

Born in a “barn”

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

I’m two weeks from my departure from Japan, and I’m joyfully reminiscing on the great times I’ve had here. I’m so happy to say that despite having experienced my fair share of “cultural feux pais” and “societal differences,” my bitching about Japan can be summed up in one easy phrase: Japanese people were born in a barn. Or maybe they were born in a country that proliferated the use of automatic doors. This is the more likely explanation. Japanese people just don’t close doors, hold doors, or ever think that there might possibly be a person following them through a door.

I don’t care about the fact that Japanese people are indecisive, and beat around the bush like champs, and the girls are shy and laugh into their hands when I try to speak Japanese (I live in the countryside, by the way.) These experiences don’t bother me one bit, in fact, I love these wonderful differences. These are the differences that have made my time here interesting and “foreign.” I’m often in the company of other foreigners who complain about these differences like we’re competing in a sport, each one outdoing the other with a better “crazy Japanese person” story. Why do these people come to foreign countries if they are only to mock them when they arrive? No…Japanese people are great. They have been warm, friendly, and eager to share their fascinating country with me. I just wish that the doors would open a little sooner, close a little faster after we walk through them, and could possibly be held for courtesy’s sake every once in a while. That’s it, bitching finished. Otsukaresamadeshita.

Learning Thai in Japanese

Monday, January 16th, 2006
I've read all the message boards about Thailand, learned about earplugs, dyed skin, and the tip to pick up a little Thai before you go. Luckily, in my Japanese kanji class there is a Thai guy. I jumped ... [Continue reading this entry]

The status of Japanese-American diplomacy

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006
I speak and she nods; she speaks and I do the same. These nods and subtle gestures allude to understanding, but underneath we're both holding on barely by fingernails. Nods say, "I understand", "I've got it," "wakarimashita," ... [Continue reading this entry]

Something fishy

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006
Japan is one of the safest, if not the safest, country around. I've literally never felt threatened in any way here…until Tsukiji fish market made it on my itinerary. I finally woke up early enough on a ... [Continue reading this entry]

Am I lost in the world yet?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006
Well here I sit, having lived in Asia for approximately 15 months in the sleepy seaside town of Hitachi(yes, like the TVs), and I feel like my real Asian adventure is truly about to start. Japan has been an amazing ... [Continue reading this entry]