A sudden thought hit me the other day – I had another blog for a very brief while. I had to write it for a class while I was studying abroad in Japan before I was sent home due to the earthquake and tsunami, so there were only three posts. I looked it up the other day and actually managed to find it. Not wanting to lose the post and feeling nostalgic looking back on it, I decided I’d like to reblog it here. This is the first post.
It was originally published in February 2011, shortly after I had arrived in Japan. I believe the assignment for this blog was “What are you first impressions of Japan?” I didn’t change a word. Enjoy!
What are my impressions of Japan? Hrmm…
I’ve been to Japan before, for a different reason. Then I was teaching, now I’m learning. I think the last time I went to Japan I had what might be called ‘Japan Fever’ and slowly found out there were a lot of things I thought I knew, but in reality didn’t. I also had an extremely optimistic, glassy-eyed view of everything.
Not to say I’m a pessimist now, but I feel I have a more critical eye, and am aware that there are many things about Japan that I am still ignorant of.
That is why the first picture I will use to represent my ‘second’ first impression of Japan is not a photo that would ever win any awards. It’s blurry due to it being night, my fingers being frozen, and despite taking ten pictures none of them turning out in focus. There’s snow, which people who have been here told me would never happen, and since I’m from Wisconsin they said all I need is a light fall jacket. Well that’s been quite untrue the past few weeks, and it’s been quite chilly doing all the walking I have. This snow day could represent quite well the things I have found here that have surprised me. The cold could represent some of the negatives that I had not realized, especially highlighted by the women’s safety orientation. Also, there is a sort of disconnect I feel here, since everyone is friendly and at the same time hesitant. It’s hard to tell if it’s politeness or interest.
And yet, it was beautiful at the same time. In a place like Japan where every twenty feet or so there is a shrine, beauty is easy to come by. I can walk around for hours and still see things that are just so pretty I have to stop and look at them. This snowy night was one of those times.
I also know I still have a lot of growing to do while I’m here, as well as opportunities, and I think the light shining in the corner is a way to reassure me of that.
And for my next one, though it sounds minimal, is the current devourer of my money. Though this isn’t a picture of a vending machine, it is a picture of all the drinks. I love the food here, and I love the drinks perhaps even more. It is hard for me to walk by without buying something. There is that eternal gremlin whispering, ‘you know you will never get this in the states! Not without paying an arm and a leg…so buy, buy, buy!’ Milk tea is currently the most difficult to resist.
Next are a few very simple pictures. I haven’t seen much of Japan’s natural beauty yet, and this too is but a glimpse. I’m really looking forward to a closer look. (Also I should make it clear that this is a setting sun 😉 )
My favorite Japanese singer (Miyavi) also held a concert in Osaka tonight and it was…I can’t think of a word that hasn’t been so overused, so it still has meaning. It was fantastic. Not quite right, but not as overused as cool or amazing, at least. It was a great way to be welcomed to Japan, to say the least.
I had to go by myself, and I was worried like mad that I was going to get lost. And I did. Luckily I found some nice people to help me, and eventually I found the concert. Then another nice person helped me get a ticket, and she also helped me find my way back to the station when the concert was over. I definitely would have gotten lost again. What does this have to do with first impressions? Well, I’ve had many motivations for studying Japanese, but Miyavi is probably the only one that has stayed through all the years. His songs inspire me to move forward and do my best. One song in particular makes me want to try harder; it’s called Girls, Be Ambitious. View my favorite version of the song here.
But currently his newest single is in a much different vein (and his fashion changes as much as his musical style — even though this is his newest single, his hair was completely different at the concert than it is in the video). It’s called Torture, and I was so happy to hear it directly from him tonight. View the music video for Torture here — and pay close attention to the background.
I also saw him in concert when I was here three years ago, and I think it’s another good way to represent how my impressions have changed from last time to this. When I saw him three years ago he wore heavy make-up and looked a little too much like Christina Aguilera. He had a rapper-back up singer, and came on the stage in a kimono behind a wooden screen. This time he wore little to no make-up, and in place of his white and pink long hair extensions he had shoulder-length (albeit cut in a strange style) dark brown hair, wore a simple black long sleeve shirt, and the entire time it was just him and his guitar, and Bobo and his drums. I almost didn’t recognize him. At first I thought someone else was tuning the guitar. Needless to say in these three years he’s changed a lot, and so have I. I hope one day I have the chance to see him again. We weren’t allowed to take photos, unfortunately, and though I tried to snap one anyway it didn’t turn out all that well either.
Miyavi has a tattoo that says Don’t Hesitate and Go. I hope I can follow these words, step out of my shell, and grow into a more well-rounded person. Can I do it? We shall see.