Impressions of Japan.
A essay by Sue, a visiting Australian, about her 'Impressions of Japan'.
Before coming to Japan I had only a vague notion of its’ true culture and of it’s people. My desire to venture to this island far from my own, began with the opportunity to study a little about modern Japan as a university student.
I was studying contemporary architecture and we were initially introduced to images of modern Japan. This was followed by a brief discussion on how these existed in the context of the traditions and styles of the “old” Japan. My profession involves the process of dealing with issues of people, culture and space. Culture exists on various levels, on a small scale; an office, a house, a room, or on a large scale; a street, a town, or a country. It became apparent to me that Japan offered a unique opportunity to investigate the mixing of two very different subcultures, that of the “traditional” and the “contemporary”. I wanted to investigate this further not only as a foreigner viewing from the outside looking in but also on a more personal scale by living and working in the country.
My first step into the Japanese culture began by studying the language. I embarked on a beginner’s course and soon realized that there are many elements to the Japanese language that are relatively easy to acquire. The broad adoption of foreign words and the use of the Roman Alphabet made it one of the most accessible of the Asian languages. I also began attending an annual Japanese cultural festival. As I started to learn more, I began to wonder how traditional Japan was really coping with the onset of contemporary Japan. How were the people balancing these two very different worlds? What were the true roles that existed in society today as opposed to the role-playing we overlaid onto them as foreigners?
I became interested in how this country participated in the new climate of a global community. I wanted to discover to what degree worldly concepts were adopted and rejected. I needed to move beyond the simplistic stereotypes that we had been fed via politics and the media. I wanted to know how the Japanese people saw themselves from an internal and external perspective. Were the stereotypes valid, did the Japanese people know about these, did they accept them or did they want the world to see them in a different way?
I was raised in a very young country and within a very multicultural society. My neighbors were from various backgrounds; Japan, Singapore, India, just to name a few. Access to authentic multicultural events, food and people were a natural part of everyday life. Cultural exchange was easy. Therefore some aspects of Japanese culture were easily accessible, yet there were some aspects that intrigued me enough to want to learn more.
I have traveled to many countries, both European and Asian. Each country offered the opportunity to understand its’ culture from a unique perspective. Behind every cultural stereotype lays its’ true nature. I wanted to strip away the cloaking layers of myths and secondhand interpretations to gain a personal understanding. Myths and stereotypes are strange things. You can find some people who want to dispel them while others are comfortable taking refuge behind them. Japan offered a mountain of myths that would keep me occupied for a while.
The opportunity finally arose just over a year ago to come to Japan to live, study and work and I feel my understanding of Japan has progressed a long way since my arrival. Over the year acquaintances have become good friends. These friendships are unique and special. They are unique in that they have developed from a mutual desire to share their culture as well as learn about another. These friendships have been the true gateway to Japanese life.
Something that surprised me was just how uncomplicated Japanese society actually is. Putting aside pleasantries and ritualised customs the society is very lineal. People are told where their place is and their task is to maintain anonymity within this system in order to uphold the level above and below but beneath the surface of this ‘uncomplicated’ structure lays a deep seated conflict. A conflict between the old and the new, the traditional and the contemporary.
I am not surprised by the rising conflict I sense between these worlds, but I was surprised at how strongly (or weakly) denial or indifference to them is upheld. I see a country struggling to find a direction politically, socially and as individuals. The modern world that Japan so eagerly promotes and manufacturers is now yielding repercussions, both good and bad. Just how will Japan choose to respond to these pressures, will set the grounding for what appears to be a very confused upcoming generation of young people searching for guidance.
Japan is trying to both maintain it’s mystical quality while attempting to alter the worlds’ view it has of Japan by dispelling many of the same myths it chooses to hide behind. It sees advantages and disadvantages in maintaining both, but it's resulting in something of an identity crisis amongst it’s own people, not just the global community. The comics and cartoons that Japan is so famous for offers a release from the real world. They create imaginary worlds in which death, love, family and politics are fabricated into images of unattainable perfection. I look around and watch the Japanese people struggle to replicate these images. I hope that they will soon realise the beauty that exists within themselves. I also hope that they learn to genuinely accept that, like all other human beings, they are both equals and individuals who are able to excel and achieve great things for tomorrow.
My impression of Japan and its’ people has been altered forever. For me it has been both a public and private journey. I have interacted with many people on varying levels and I have discovered the importance of communication, both as a means for progress and friendship. My Japan story is only one of thousands and one that is always changing and growing. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to delve beyond the cultural façade, this only being possible through the dedication and kindness of friends. I can strongly recommend that you make Super russian women natasha pictures . green coffee bean extract the leap of faith and come to Japan. I am sure you to will be amazed at what you uncover, not only about Japan, but about yourself.