Sunday, February 14, 2010

Confusion and Love

  Japan looks like the U.S.  Honestly, if the signs were in English I could believe that I was in Chicago or New York.  Japan is so westernized-beyond the U.S.-but it is totally the people and the culture that makes Japan an entirely different universe for Americans.
  I spent my first two days in Yokohama and Tokyo almost entirely by myself and it was probably the greatest thing I could have done to break myself into Japanese life.  First of all, I thought since Japan has such a strong culture and importance on intelligence, school, and success, that most people would also speak English.   I was wrong.  I didn’t even eat lunch the first day because I couldn’t figure out how to ask for something to eat nonetheless how much currency I needed.
  Despite the language barrier people did try to communicate regardless.  A man by the harbor mimed to me to ask if I wanted to feed the birds with him, a man playing in a park with a remote control car rolled the car up to me and my favorite, a woman in an art gallery who tried to talk to me about her work.  I walked past her gallery that had sculptures of mystical creatures-some fish, dragons, hippos, etc in different colors and most of them only had one eye.  I was super intrigued by these so when I walked into the gallery I wanted to speak to the woman and she began babbling off Japanese to me, looking at me like I could respond.  I shook my head saying I don’t speak Japanese.  She said some more Japanese and finally said in English “Spiritual Monsters” in regards to her sculptures.  All I could do was hope she understood when I said they were beautiful.
 Once I got into Tokyo I found my way to some friends and it got a little easier.  A 21 year old Japanese couple approached us on the street on our way out and immediately asked if they could come out with us.  Laka, a student at a Japanese language school, spoke enough English for us to communicate.  She showed us around Tokyo and helped us talk to people and showed us some bars and clubs and while we were around the neighborhood some love hotels.
  These people definitely helped us adjust to this beginning but the real Japan love started when my friends Bailey, Elle, Traci, and I went to Kyoto.  Bailey and Traci had a friend-Erika-from home who is now living in Kyoto teaching English.  Erika was our inside to Japanese life and from then on my Japanese experience was magical!  Erika took us to the best restaurants where I ate my new fave meal Okonomiyaki, which is sort of like an omelette but really not at all even though it is made with eggs, vegetables, meat, and fish scales.  Also-get ready for this Mom and Dad-and I also feel like Manda would be really proud-I tried sushi-twice-and loved it! Hopefully I can find that good of sushi in the U.S. Ha. Here’s to hopin.
  Also got some good dirt on the Japanese romantic system, which obviously I took an interest in.  The courting process is totally different than our own.  My favorite ritual is with over a hundred teenagers that meet in a dried out river bed.  They all get into a giant circle and then one at a time the guys step into the circle and call out the name of the girl they like.  The girl then enters the circle and if she likes him she takes his hand and the two go off together.  If she doesn’t like him she says sorry and walks back to her friends. I love it.
  On my own personal love note Erika took us to a bunch of Shinto and Buddhist shrines.  One of the shrines was a love shrine that inside had two large rocks spaced about 20 or 30 feet apart.   There is a myth that is said that if you can close your eyes and walk from one stone to the other you will find your love soon.  You are allowed one person to talk you through it so I had Erika direct me-oh and by the way, it was POURING rain that day, like at this point in the day my shoes were soaked, my jeans were wet up to my knees and my camera was fogging up-but I made it through the rain and through the mass of people to the other stone.  So look out world, I’m destined for love, rain or shine, in Japanese or English, even if I’m halfway around the globe.  If nothing else, I fell in love with Japan.

More to write…will write later.


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