Ever since the first time I watched anime, I was fascinated about the country that it came from – Japan. This is a country that really marches to its own drummer. It’s so very different from most parts of the world, and has such a unique identity, that it makes it a very attractive destination. One of the things I love about Japan is that it’s not afraid to be unique – and it does this in so many wonderful ways, from the culture to the people to the food to the atmosphere, there is something for just about every taste imaginable.
The language of Japan is gorgeous – there is just no denying it. When you hear it, it sounds so melodic and flows so well, even if you don’t understand a word someone is trying to say. I started learning how to speak and read it over 20 years ago…..sadly, have not made a whole lot of progress, and didn’t really learn much more outside of that one year in college, and only because they only had the one class. I know……I could pick up a copy of Rosetta Stone or talk someone into teaching me more, but that takes time – a seemingly limited commodity in my life these days. I had a wonderful teacher in college named Natsuko, who at the beginning of the class, knew as much English as we knew Japanese – just about zero. That is what made it fun though! We immersed ourselves in the learning, and spoke no English at all while we were in class, so it was “study or die” as it mentions in one of the anime series I watch – Maison Ikkoku (a wonderful treat to see if you can find it).
The other thing that appeals to me is that this country is not afraid to be quirky, and it succeeds at this in so many ways – from the fashions of Harajuku to the capsule hotels to the many wild and different types of vending machines you find all over the place – some of which you have to wonder………..why did they make a machine for this? I won’t go into details……I’ll let you look it up. The music is gorgeous too, even though a majority of it I’ll never understand fully – I may pick out one of every 5000 words, and that’s on a good day. I still enjoy it though. It’s amazing how many people peacefully co-exist in a country whose population is packed into such small places! Even the apartments are a testament to compartmentalism and minimalism, since space is at such a premium. You want a house with a yard? You better have a good-sized bankroll to afford it with, otherwise you will most likely be living in an apartment that still costs quite a lot.
Another favorite aspect of Japanese life is the food. Oh, is the food ever good! If you can find good, real Japanese food where you are, you are in for a treat. Even though people shirk away from the idea of eating sushi, once I got into it, I never stopped craving it. There are so many different kinds, you may have a hard time ever discovering them all. There are many other types of Japanese food too, many of which use a lot of vegetables and/or rice, but that’s a blessing, as it’s not as fattening as a lot of food we get over here in the good old US of A. For a while, I used to make my own maki rolls, and once you get the hang of it, and have the proper equipment, it’s pretty much just figuring out what you want to roll up!
I have kept telling myself over the years that someday I would love to visit there, but sadly, that does not seem to be in my future. I’m just not that well off to be able to be footloose and fancy free to go travelling whenever I wish, so I just live vicariously through those that do, and just enjoy what parts of Japan that I can. I’m not bitter about it, as many Japanese have brought their talents and bits of life into our melting pot of culture, so if you just look, you can find a little niche of Japan right in your own backyard – it’s so worth looking too.