Japan has always been my dream. I was so fortunate to be able to stay there for a month with my friend’s family after graduation. I enrolled in a Japanese language course and travel when I finished the course. I lived with their family in West Tokyo. The neighborhood looks exactly like the anime that I saw when I was younger, which excite me to the core.
Japan is known as one of the leading country in Asia, in its economy, technology and science. It also has a unique combination of the most cutting edge technology and yet maintaining the traditional values. It all comes back to their hard work etiquette. They work hard, like really hard and its common to see people work from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M. My friend who works there go to work at 7.30 A.M. and won’t reach home until 9 P.M. If she has to work overtime, she will be home at 11 P.M. The fastest that she could come back home is at 7 P.M. She is very busy, and I was told that is usual for Japanese to work with that pace. I felt really bad when my old job required me to be in the office at 9 A.M. and finished at 5 P.M. I suppose it’s their daily life that makes me guilty of what I am now. Compared to them, I am still slacking off.
(apologize for the shaky video. and why the heck I didn’t shot a landscape video? omg)
They worked hard and very sincere. I think that those traits make them a leading country in Asia. I admired them before I came, and I even more admire them when I was there. They read a lot too. In the morning train, if one can grab a book or kindle, they will read. It’s their unbelievable thirst of knowledge that amazes me. The okaa-san, or how I called my friend’s mother is very old and she is still very interested in learning new language. She went to language course too, twice a week at night to learn Chinese.
The people are very healthy. They eat a lot of vegetables and worked out a lot. I mean, even if they don’t work out at the gym, most of the people commute using train from their house to their workplace. They could walk around 30 minutes a day from their house to the station, train transfer and then from the station to the office. It means that they could spend at least an hour a day to walk. Especially in the family who I lived with, they add exercise twice a week. They eat a lot of vegetables and even grow some in their yard. They are living an ideal healthy life.
As I am interested in Japan and its culture, the family that I lived in also interested in my culture. They are curious about my culture as well, particularly about the history. They asked me, firstly about my language and letters. I told them that in the past Indonesian used Sanskrit for writing, but now we only use roman letters. Sanskrit-like writing was founded in leaves artifacts, but it now only taught as knowledge, not used in daily life anymore. The languages that I use are Indonesian for daily conversation with most people, Javanese with my family, and Sundanese with my neighbors. Then they asked me furthermore about how Indonesia has so many different languages, and I paused a moment before answering. I muttered the reason for that was because Indonesia was composed from hundreds of different kingdoms in the past. Afterward, the asked me again what happened with those kingdoms when Indonesia become one country. I could only thought about one example, Yogyakarta, which governor is the descendants of kings from the older monarchy. I paused a lot that night when we discussed, their questions are chronological and logical but it wasn’t exactly taught in the textbook. But it is a good thing, since it aroused my curiosity for my own root and appreciates my own history. It was a unique experience for me. I never gave a deep thought of my own history more than what the history class at school taught me. It is good that I am interested in the Japanese culture, but reminds me that I should also be paying attention to my own culture.
During the travel, I went to tourism spots, such as Nikko, Asakusa, Odaiba, Tokyo Tower, Ginza and some other places. I really appreciate the beautiful architecture of the places but I do realize, my favorite activity was actually when I walk among them. When I waited for the train with people who are going to work, be punctual and walk with their walking speed ( I was actually tired lolol). I admire their effectiveness. I can’t help to think what makes Japanese life so effective and different from my own country.
I was told that Japanese, especially Tokyo are very individualistic. But, one day I was lost under Shinjuku station with my friend from language course. An elderly kindly asked us where were we going, we told him that we wanted to go to Shinjuku bus station and he told us he knew where that is but its too confusing to tell us, so he guided us there. We were both students and still working on our Japanese, so our Japanese is still half-cooked. But our broken Japanese does not stop us to communicate to people. Kindness surpasses language barrier, race and religion. Kindness is a language that is understood by everyone. I was so touched. It didn’t only happen in Tokyo. While I was lost in Osaka, with another friend who actually had lived there for 5 years, a man in a bike waved at us and asked us if we were lost. When we actually lost, and then the man told us where we should go to take the bus.
Travel, just like life, sometime needs to be flexible. Plans are needed, but there are times that I need to be flexible and handle things as they come. Travelling in slow pace has different feeling with travelling as a tourist. Instead of rushing from one place to the other, I slowly go with the pace around me with the people that live there. Though it has to be done by doing something else that would allow oneself to interact with people in the surrounding like how they life everyday such as, working, studying, doing a conference, volunteering, and other activity. Travelling is best done with locals to get their point of view in life and possibly things that I could take in my life as well.
Traveling in slow pace makes someone view things as the people around him or her. In this case, I see Japan by the Japanese point of view. Life is life, there are plus and minus in each place. Japan still occupies a special place in my heart and by coming there my love to Japan just keeps growing. It also motivates me to try making my country as great as Japan.
Oops, I think I left my heart in Japan (lol)