Ah, Japan! Who never heard of manga or sushi? It seems everybody knows about that, because those are the first two things people talk to me about when I say I’m going to travel in Japan. The third thing people say to me is “Ni Hao”, which means “Hi” in Mandarin (Chinese). Oops! I’m going to Japan, where people speak Japanese, not Chinese.
So we have to say “Konnichiwa” for “Good afternoon”, “Ohayou gozaimasu” for “Good morning” and “Konbanwa” for “Good evening”. But I guess if Asia was never of any interest for some people, then it’s normal they don’t know about it. Therefore, it happens quite often that people think Chinese and Japanese are the same language (which, I must add, are completely different). I find it great to make people around me learn a little bit more about Japan. I have the impression I’ll stumble upon many stereotypes, including mine. We’ll see!
Usually, the first question people ask me when I say I’m going there is “How long are you staying in Japan?”. The answer is : two months and a half.
Then, it’s “When are you leaving?” : on March 10th 2013. I come back to Canada on May 21st.
“Why are you going there?” : simply to travel, to be a tourist! Sometimes, as a joke, I say it’s “my pilgrimage”. I’m making this trip at an important step of my life and I hope I’ll learn more about myself. It’s the first time I’m going to be all alone, without any landmarks or authority figure to help me. I’ve been preparing for it since 2012. It won’t be the last of my travels, that’s for sure!
“Why Japan, and not another country?” : ah, so that’s THE question. However, I think it’s a strange question. I mean, if I said I would be going to, let’s say the United States or England or France, people would have probably never ask me that question. And the funny thing is, I don’t really have an answer! Japan always attracted me. I’ve been surrounded by manga since I was a child. My sister was making me read RG Veda when I was roughly around 10 or 11 years old. And I absolutely loved it (by the way, when I look back at it, RG Veda isn’t really a manga for children… oh well!). Later on, I bought various manga and I read hundreds on internet. I don’t know how, but it led me further. I’m a curious person, so I probably went on internet to understand something I saw in a manga. Then, I must have became interested in Japan itself instead of only the manga. Today, it’s the way of thinking in Japan, the religions, the lifestyle and all those things that make me interested. It won’t stop me buying manga in Japan five times cheaper than what is on sale here, though. But I’m not going for that. What thrills me is first and foremost the Japanese culture.
Example : Japan is roughly the same size as California in the United States. The population density in Japan is about 130 millions, which is almost half of the USA’s. It means that half of the entire USA’s population is living in a land about the same size as California. And that’s where culture changes. Because of the limited space, Japanese people give cooperation and harmony a great importance in society. You have to avoid the meiwaku, which means “being a nuisance for others”. Most of the Japanese are careful not to talk loudly where there’s a lot of people (like trains), not let their children go crazy in supermarkets, etc. Sometimes, when you give a gift to a Japanese, he/she will say sumimasen, or “I’m sorry” in English. Why is he/she sorry? Well, because you had trouble getting and giving a gift to that person, and so he/she disturbed you in the process. They didn’t say “Thank you”, they said “Sorry”! I think you can really see the Japanese culture there. It looks like they are less individualist than what I’m used to in Canada. Did you know that the average delay per train in Japan is of 12 seconds? Yes, in seconds.
I leave you on these interesting facts!
Next post, my travel route!