Friday, March 16, 2018

Japan, At Last

During the spring when I was seven years old, a magical event happened at my school. Teachers transformed their classrooms from the mundane desk/work centers to far off places. They hung up photos of breathtaking scenery, wore strange clothing, brought in interesting food, and taught weird games. In essence, they brought us the world.

For seven-year-old me who only knew the names of a handful of countries at the time (probably mainly Canada, the US, France, England, Australia, New Zealand and of course Africa. Because to a seven-year-old in NA, Africa is a country, sorry. ) it was as if the sun had broken through clouds of grey. My spectrum of colour had grown exponentially and I was seeing new shades between shades.

Of all the rooms I visited on our international day, the only one I really remember was that of my to-be grade two teacher, Mlle. M. She came wearing an authentic kimono from her own time in Japan and had pictures of Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms and fireworks by the Tokyo Tower displayed around the room. I wish I could regale you with her stories of traveling around the country and experiences in Japan, but honestly those are the clearest details that I remember. I do remember, however, being so enamored by this country so different from my own that I promised myself that I would someday get to Japan.

Funny how one day, one short activity from my school day in grade 1 could leave such a lasting impression, eh?

Growing up, my favourite TV programs and movies were related to the Japanese style of animation--the best ones coming translated from the original Japanese. I'd watch certain shows over and over again. I'm pretty sure I could act out Kiki's Delivery Service. My sister and I watched the VHS so much it at last broke. In school, when possible I did projects related to Japanese culture including a study of Ancient Japan in grade 5 focusing on Japanese mythology, weapons, and the samurai and then later an essay regarding the Nanjing/Nanking Massacre in University.

In a lot of ways, Japan was always somewhere in my thoughts, even if not directly in my path. Someday, I would get there, I thought.

At last, here I am. Sitting in the Jeju airport. My flight leaves for Osaka in about 40 minutes, boarding in 20. I've heard nothing but good things from friends who've gone, but I still can't help being nervous. Have I been staring at this country through rose-coloured glasses? Will my vision shatter to pieces around my feet as I set step into this country that I've wanted to visit for the last 19 years?

I suppose it's time to find out; on my way from the land of morning calm to the land of the rising sun. 

Love and Hugs

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