Why Japan?

I began writing this column with an intention of introducing Japan to readers out there. I had already written about 700 words, mostly about the cold weather, what types of heaters are commonly used in households in Japan, you know, trivial stuffs that only served to fill the pages. I rested for a moment while I tried to figure out exactly how I would end it. And then, out of the blue, I lost my inspiration for finishing the column. I asked myself, now why would anyone be interested in what type of heaters would be more efficient during winter? It just didn’t feel right.

So I abandoned it. I figured, it doesn’t really reflect what “I” think. If readers want to go to Japan and taste sushi, well, then all they have to do is pick up a version of Lonely Planet and follow the guidebook. There are already tons of information that one can pick up on the internet. If I followed the same formula, I would just be reiterating what others have already written before.

I want this column to be different. Fresh perspectives from someone who has lived in Japan for more than ten years. I am not a visitor in this country anymore. Sure, I still feel like an “alien” from time to time, especially when I get tongue-tied with my kindergarten-level Japanese. But still, this is home to me and my family.

I miss the Philippines. You probably would not believe it, but I even miss the traffic congestion. It’s not just the vehicles slowing down to a crawl or to a complete stop. It seems as if life itself slows down when you’re stuck in traffic. Here in Japan, everything is just so fast-paced. Try going to the crowded stations of Tokyo, particularly during rush hours, and you’ll see what I mean. The mass of humanity (usually in drab-colored attires) heading to different directions, converging only at the stations for brief moments, always hurrying to get to the next destination. You think that’s interesting? But consider this: the fast-paced life doesn’t always give us the moment to think and reflect.

I ponder a lot. I ponder why I am still here in this country, why I choose to stay, why I have survived so far, why others who had been with me at the start have left for “greener pastures” in the US or other western countries – more often, English-speaking countries. I ponder why I have not mastered the Japanese language until now. I ponder why I am getting addicted to gadgets; why I prefer buying new appliances and throwing away my old ones instead of having them repaired. My mother, always the thrifty one, would surely be horrified.

So here’s my take on how it feels, tastes, smells, and looks like living in this country, with all its quirks and charms, puzzles and challenges, difficulties and conveniences. Living in Japan is really more than just riding those cool and sleek bullet trains (ahh, the shinkansen), eating raw seafood, or seeing the dancing robots.

So why Japan? Well, why not? :)

Visit the author’s blog at http://bmblog.bagarinao.com/