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  3. Back from Japan. Some thoughts.

User Info: Kylo Force

Kylo Force
2 weeks ago#1
I spent the better part of 12ish days in Japan (depending on from which timezone you start counting from, when you count arrival, leaving, etc.) Was in the Osaka area exploring both there and Kyoto for about 4.5 days, and in the Tokyo area for about a week. It's the first time I've been traveling with other people in several years; most of my vacations and trips are completely solo. We started planning the trip back last October, booked tickets in November, and have been planning for it since then.

The last time I was there was during my sophomore year of high school, where I also very feasibly could have posted about my experiences there on this very board, although I have no idea if I actually did that or not. I was entirely silent about my trip on Facebook, but documented it pretty heavily on Instagram, and have other "curated" picture collections coming on that platform.

We visited, among other things, various shrines, a monkey preserve on a mountain, a bamboo forest, a Cup Noodles museum, a Giants baseball game, the giant Gundam Unicorn, Akihabara, the Shibuya crossing, a karaoke place, numerous restaurants, a store that exclusively sells stickers, and Glicoman.

I learned that garbage and recycling bins are few and far between because of a terrorist attack that happened in the 90s, and that most garbage in Japan is sorted by whether or not it can be burned. Convenience and engineering rule everything. They use space in more efficient ways than I ever could have imagined and things down to foods at convenience stores are maximized in efficiency. I was slightly horrified at how much plastic they use when it rains (nearly every store provides umbrella covers to stop wet umbrellas from slobbering everywhere, at the cost of being able to throw away and obtain a new one between every store you visit.)

Food at restaurants maximize taste and experience over volume, but you never leave a restaurant dissatisfied. Instead I felt almost relieved that all of the (modest) dining experiences I had were about delivering maximum flavor and enjoyment in the meal rather than the typically American experience of overwhelming me with food volume.

Perhaps most importantly I was faced with how I fill my time when I'm at home, mostly by myself. It's a really jarring experience to go from living essentially by yourself (my roommate and I very rarely actually see each other) to being constantly with three or four other people for two weeks. It can be exhausting but I mostly found it welcoming to be in the presence of people that I like and trust and to have conversations with them and experiences with them and disagreements and agreements with them over the time that we were there. It made me question more seriously why my first instinct is to fill the empty space around me at home with podcasts or YouTube videos or other background noise. It made me okay with sitting in the quiet every once in awhile, and laugh at how I prepared my phone with hours and hours and hours of content that I expected I would have needed to fill silences while on travels (and indeed, I have used to fill silences while traveling solo.)

I got to play Smash Bros on a plane with four people thanks to the Switch. That's a great piece of technology. I got my ass kicked by mostly Japanese players in Tetris 99.

I found out that my Japanese language skills, though only at the barest survival level, are still mostly intact. I wanted to write my Japanese teacher from high school to thank him.

I don't seriously think I could uproot everything and move there today, but I don't think living in Osaka or even Tokyo would be too bad. My language skills would need to seriously level up before doing that, though.

It's good to be back and have a fresh look at life at home. And maybe that's what vacations are actually for.
"Sa taong walang takot, walang mataas na bakod."
"To those without fear, there is no such thing as a tall fence." - Filipino Proverb

User Info: HeyDude

HeyDude
1 week ago#2
Sounds really cool. I enjoy hearing about the little differences like the umbrella thing.

I do follow you on Instagram but I kinda skimmed. This text post is far better to me. Kinda backwards from the "picture is worth a thousand words" proverb.

Glad you had a good time.

User Info: ShadowSpy

ShadowSpy
1 week ago#3
Yeah, sounds like the vacation was worth it! Regarding the thing about spending time non-stop with people you trust...this has been something on my mind recently, regarding the human need for community and to have a close tribe of people that can be relied on. I'm glad to hear that you were able to enjoy the trip with some good friends.
"I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific."

User Info: BUM

BUM
1 week ago#4
I'm glad you profited from the silence. Obviously, something that's pretty important to me.

I remember when I would take some of the older monks to the doctor, when I was in the hermitage, how just being in the doctor's office and hearing the television would really annoy me. I couldn't think or pray! The distraction level provided by technology is bizarre and unnatural.

It's nice that you used the phrase "empty space" because it is like what it is, and yet, the empty space is important. Like a dinner table set for company should only have a few chosen pieces on it, and not be filled completely with items, bogging down everything and sore to the eye. The space is needed for reflection, examination, rest, peace, growth.

Sounds like a good trip.
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User Info: BUM

BUM
1 week ago#5
Oh, I forgot to ask. Are your eating habits different now that you're back? Or are you going to try to make them different? And did you write your teacher?

I remember a story about someone who wrote their teacher after many years and she wrote him back that she had never received a thank you card from a student, and was in her old age and lonely, and it meant a great deal to her.

Little thank you cards, especially unexpected ones, are so wonderful to receive and send.
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User Info: Kylo Force

Kylo Force
1 week ago#6
My eating habits are marginally different so far in that I haven't been eating as much, but I also attribute this to me having been sick since I got back (including having a lingering fever from this past Monday to yesterday.) My body also seems to be full... sooner? So I think I got used to eating marginally less. We'll see if that lasts. It would be nice if it did, considering I could stand to lose a few pounds.

I have not written that teacher yet, but I definitely will.
"Sa taong walang takot, walang mataas na bakod."
"To those without fear, there is no such thing as a tall fence." - Filipino Proverb
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  3. Back from Japan. Some thoughts.