“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ St. Augustine of Hippo

Most people want to go to New York City, Paris, or London, but neither of these places has ever piqued my interest in the same way as Tokyo. The one place I’ve always wanted to go to is Japan. 

The fashion, the music, the food, the architecture, the history, and everything else have always fascinated me. 

Yes, I already know that real-life Japan is not like anime, just like you should know that life is not a fairy tale, and no one likes tourists. These are facts of life that we don’t want to believe are true but they are.

 

Most people want to go to New York City, Paris, or London, but neither of these places has ever piqued my interest in the same way as Tokyo. The one place I’ve always wanted to go to is Japan. 

I don’t know when my fascination with Japan began. I was always curious about different countries and cultures, and hope to travel the world someday. 

My love of Indigenous and African stories and traditions is probably where this fascination began. Once I began watching anime, Japan became a focus of mine.

My first anime, Inuyasha and Bleach, alternate between feudal and modern day Japan. The buildings, clothing, and language, were all so new to me. 

I tried to read as many books as I could – my main source of information – and learned about Shintoism, which I noticed was very prevalent in anime. 

I focused on religion because I’ve always attended Catholic schools. 

I also began to take more notice of Asian influence on American culture. I never really thought about Power Rangers before, or the many, many samurai themed movies. 

Yu-gi Oh, Pokemon, Digimon, Tamagotchi (and other digital pets), and all of my Nintendo games all came from Japan. 

I began my violin lessons in the fifth grade using the Suzuki method at the Suzuki violin school in Chicago. 

The violin is such a beautiful instrument and I really wanted to learn to play it. 

I didn’t really think about it’s history in choosing the curriculum, since my mom was the one who made the decision, but I did learn about Shuichi Suzuki and am very grateful for him. 

If it weren’t for him, I probably would’ve lost interest in music. I had a much easier time learning to read sheet music by actually playing the music.

No one understood my taste in music. I began listening to Vocaloid music, Jpop, Jrock, and J-everything else. It’ll probably become a trend soon enough. Then, my friends will finally give it a try. 

I learned more about the geography of the country for a class my freshman year of high school. 

I created a slideshow presentation about the best tourist destinations – Okinawa, Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo. I wish we learned these things in school.

I had to shift focus away from Japan and onto France once I got to high school and had to take French. 

Well, I had to choose either Spanish, German, or French, and chose French. I needed to devote more time to learning this new culture and history. 

In college I wanted to take the Japanese language classes, but the spots always filled up. I joined the Otaku Anime Club where I met a lot more people who both loved anime and wanted to learn about Japanese culture. 

Eventually, the Japanese Student Association was created on my campus, and I joined that too. I don’t go to as many meetings as I’d like, but it’s always fun when I come. 

When I go to Japan, I want to go to festivals and see cherry blossoms. Those tiny pink blossoms are just so pretty, and as a flower lover I cannot resist this wish of mine.

I want to see Tokyo Tower and observe the city from up above. I want to watch a sumo fight, and visit the Tokyo Disneyland. I definitely want to visit a few temples and other historical sights, as well.

It’s been recommended that I focus on all the great food I’ve been missing out on, like wagashi and okonomiyaki. I do know that each prefecture has its own local specialty dishes, so it will take time to explore them all.

Just as millions of people want to visit the US and see New York City, Chicago, or LA, I want to see Japan. Japanese culture is so different from American culture and I want to experience that for myself.

I watch a lot of videos about life in Japan as a foreigner, and as a Black woman, to gain perspectives close to my own. Seems to me like the trip will be worthwhile.

A lot of my friends have already been to Japan, and other countries, but someday I’ll catch up!

Make sure to check out my previous post on this month’s 30-Day Writing Challenge!

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