As almost every person who enjoys watching movies, I do have my appreciation for Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. A story that deals with being overwhelmed by your surroundings, with the feeling of living in a culture that’s so unfamiliar to you that you feel like you’re drowning. An aesthetically pleasing and touching take on the quirky, confusing Japan that all of us (think that we) know and distantly appreciate. Of course, Japan isn’t just that. Nor is it just the traditional temples and tea ceremonies. Japan, as every other country, but at the same time more than every other country, requires not only superficial knowledge, but also understanding of the culture and language to break through the sparkly layer that lies on top of it. Kind of like how you have to get through the layer of foam to get to the best part of the cappuchino.
Now I’m not pretending I’m somehow untouchable by the whole foreigner-syndrome, or that I understand everything that’s happening around me (definitely not), because as one of my professors once said; “You can study Japan for your entire life, and still know as little as the day you started.”
Yet, beyond the big buildings, the loud music and the cute culture, beyond the exclamations of OhYourJapaneseIsSoGood (it honestly isn’t) and WillYouSpeakEnglishWithMe lies a world of little encounters and personal stories that have rekindled the love I have for this country, the language, and the people in it.
The Japan I know…
* is the drunk guy crying on a street corner at sunset because he’s going to marry the girls of his dreams and he’s so happy he doesn’t know what to do with himself.
* is old ladies chattering about dinner and how proud they are about learning a new skill.
* is gyoza in bars with tattooed man telling boisterous stories you don’t even want to consider not believing.
* is helping someone carry bags and receiving an orange as a thank you.
* is random little gifts of tea and holding hands with other girls and sharing your food.
* is a girl clinging to your neck in the middle of the night because she’s queer and doesn’t know how to tell anyone except the one foreigner she spotted and realised was queer as well.
But I digress.
Japan is a country that’s easy to get lost in when you’re too certain about what you’re going to find. But when you just jump in, eyes wide open and hands stretched out to grab at everything you can, that’s when you start finding.
So on this blog I will talk about some of the things I’ve found, since I’ve come to live in Japan.
Hope you’ll enjoy this journey with me.
Love, FJ xx