The Yin and Yang of it All

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Here’s my second favorite wrap-up post from our 2015 Japan trip. Once I returned, friends and family asked a few questions. The first made me think about my authenticity as a blogger. The other two questions have helped me to further think about my own country.

Did I love Japan?
No. It’s a lovely country. I’ve shown the beautiful hydrangeas in a prior post. And I’ve talked about the food and its freshness. But the country, even when I was in major cities, like Kyoto or Tokyo, were a little too quiet and rule driven for my free-spirited soul. Usually when I land in a city, I feel the energy. Cities, especially over-populated ones, generally have a pulse of their own. There’s a busy-ness that grabs and encapsulates you. But not Tokyo. Sure there were a lot of people and a five story H&M. But it didn’t feel like a big city. Additionally, there was a Stepford Wife feel. It was as if  each person knew his or her place and dare not cross that boundary. Even the Harajuku girls were seemingly confined to one area: Harajuku.

Were the people nice?
Overly-so. I’ve written about the blatant respect and consideration I noticed while there. But after a conversation with my best friend, I quickly learned that the country is just as racist as any society that wishes to remain “pure.” It’s just not always overt. My friend recounted the story of a biracial Miss Japan who represented the country in the Miss Universe pageant. This was a big deal. It was important because she is what they call a hafu. Yep. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Kinda like calling someone a half-breed in America or as my friend pointed out, a nigger. Say it ain’t so! Apparently, the Japanese are pretty serious about keeping their culture, bloodlines, and subsequently, representation, pure.

Have you had culture shock upon return?
Yep. It didn’t take long either. Ironically, the very thing that fueled my dislike, the quiet, is also what I’d grown used to. Our flight to Japan was virtually silent. Even the flight attendants barely spoke above a whisper. Eleven (seemingly Japanese) children were in our immediate area. I didn’t hear one of them. Not one. The flight attendants back home were different. They were louder. WATER? COFFEE? TEA? They seemed to shout as if we were at a baseball game. The screaming children, with parents who refused to say anything also somehow seemed different. Once we made it to LA, we watched a little boy jump up on the tram’s bar and swing from it like a monkey bar. Then in Atlanta, we  witnessed a little girl pour a sugar packet down her throat and announce, “The sugar is all gone, mama!” I’ve been out of the country five times and this is the first time I came back feeling as if America has some work to do. I hate feeling like this. And I almost didn’t write about it because I feared the common response when one suggests America isn’t great. I figured someone would invite me to leave the country.

So, there it is. The unadulterated truth about my visit. I loved traveling to Japan cause it’s helped me view my own country and myself a little differently. I’ve been able to equally weigh the positives and the negatives. Would I visit again? Probably not, unless someone I loved lived there.