Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Early Impressions of Japan

Before coming to Japan, I never studied academically the country, its traditions, culture, or religions. All I had were my stereotypes. All the general assumptions that everybody makes about Japan and its people. That people are very fashionable, that everything is technological, big and new, robots everywhere doing the service, some kinds of extraordinary cars that nobody saw before. Once I landed in Japan, some of my assumptions vanished right away; people were not all fashionable . There were no big streets but only small ones, with very small cars going back and forth. People were using more bicycles than cars. I thought of Japan as being a modern country while sometimes I feel like its people are more traditional than modern. Also, my impressions of Japan are not only desappointing but also surprising in the way that I was surprised by how people are organized. They have specific places for everything. Places where you are supposed to smoke, put your umbrella, shoes, linens, and EVEN trash. I knew before coming here that, in Japan, they recycle everything, but never knew that they organize the trash. And that each peace of garbage needed to be put in its own place.Wherever you go, you find many trash bins one next to the other, where you can put your trash in the right way. Surprising and amazing at the same time. Another thing that cut my attention is the supermarkets, you can buy everything from there, even cooked food or shall I say Meals. Whatever supermarket you go to, you find these huge varieties of meals from Salads ro Fish to Meat to Raw Fish to Rice...That is surprising actually because in my country, you can't find any. Either you go out for meals or cook. You certainly don't find cooked meals in shops. Although I have been in Japan for a while now, I still can't understand fully what I am seeing or experiencing as Japan has these huge contradictions. By that I mean the big houses that are built just next to the small ones, so you never know where are rich people from poor people; also the fact that Japan is modern but its people are very traditional in their values and culture. But I guess these contradictions are what makes Japan special.

1 comment:

  1. You have some interesting observations that make for interesting first impressions. There are so many stereotypes about Japan that get shattered when one actually gets here. But that shouldn't be disappointing - it should be an exciting discovery. And as an anthropologist you might want to be careful with words like contradictory - this might be the feeling that you as an outsider gets but probably not for the Japanese people who live here. I am sure your understanding and appreciation will grow as you have more experiences.

    Do you really see trash cans everywhere? Most people complain about a lack of trash cans in public. And recycling is a recent phenomenon in Japan - it wasn't so long ago when all trash was burned or shipped to other countries. Check out:

    Can you fix your photos so that they are not sideways?

    I think that if you continue with your keen observations ans supplement them with some research that you will have some very good posts in the future. Looking forward to them.