I think this trip to Japan was a little different; I went to an izakaya by myself for the first time, and it was terribly awkward yet unexpectedly fun (and in the process I discovered Asahi beer). I got free food on two separate occasions when people found out I could speak enough Japanese to hold a pre-school level conversation ('Kyoto was fun! Thank you! Oh no, are you sure you're giving me all that omelette? Thank you!! You're like my mom! Oh, you're buying me ice cream too? No, no, really?'). Hey but the conversation was fun! Somehow in izakayas everyone lets loose and have no qualms starting conversations with strangers.
I also had fun shopping. I discovered eye hot packs, cool ways to tie your hair, and red bean caramel pudding (yum).
One thing I really like about this country is that the more you give way, the more others give way for you. A stereotypical Chinese tourist walks straight through the crowd, gets banged a few times but doesn't think twice about it, since it's normal in China. Japanese people instead tend to give way, and bow to thank those who make way for them. I'm the kind of person who tends to step aside anyway, but it's the first time I get thanked regularly for doing so, or even—sometimes—the other person will immediately stop and tell me no, please go ahead first. The more polite you are here, the more polite others are to you, and this is really nice for certain types of people more than others.
Someone asked me if I want to live here. Do I want to work unpaid overtime and be unable to leave before my boss? Although if I start up my own clinic it might be a different story...
Do I want to live in a country where its people are still deeply spiritual, and prioritize harmony above almost everything else?
I don't really know. But I guess I'll keep on improving my Japanese, so that I can have more interesting conversations (and the occasional free food), more discoveries and also I want to be able to read Kino no Tabi in Japanese!!!! I'm learning Japanese for you, Kino!!
I think what I tried to say was, just because those around you take your side, doesn't make things ok. Because one day if everyone believes you're to blame, that doesn't mean you're wrong either.
Actually you probably do understand. I've always thought you had a strong moral compass. Perhaps sometimes we're just confronted by sheer malice, stupidity, and cruelty, to the point where we begin to question ourselves and doubt our 'okayness'.
Hey if I say you're okay, then you're okay.
I have a number and I'm gonna throw it. I was proud for a while before I realized it's nothing to be happy about.
Also, visiting zen gardens taught me a life lesson. So maybe I'll name this post 'protected time'. And protected time equals meditation. Because peace is what I've always wanted, but it's easy to forget that. I think it needs practice and cultivation, but I don't want to become a nun and eat tofu for the rest of my life (even though tofu is delicious). So maybe just meditate for 5 mins every morning (zach you're an inspiration!). And then if I can keep it up, 10 mins.
Finally, recently I've been reading thisjapaneselife before bed. It's quite a rare find!
Bolbbalgan4 - tell me you love me