Top 10 Feelings You Will Probably Have in Japan
By: André MoreiraComing from such a faraway country like Portugal, there are quite a lot of emotions and hard to explain feelings that grow inside of me as an expat. Not only the distance, there are a lot of aspects that are completely different when comparing Japan with my country.
But where are my manners, my name is André, I’m a 23-year-old Portuguese student who just decided to embark in an adventure in Japan. And as any good adventure, the adventurer looks for different, exciting experiences! Either those experiences are good or bad, but one thing is for sure: they will always, always make the adventurer grow up!
But let’s get to the point. Soon it will be 2 years since I moved to Japan, and this is the perfect timing to recall all those strange yet familiar feelings that have overwhelmed me since then.
The first feeling I had towards Japan was CURIOSITY. Such a different country, such a different culture... It made me realize that the Earth is a really wonderful place, where so many different people live in community, one way or another. It was that curiosity that took me to investigate more about Japan, and to learn the Japanese language.
After coming to Japan, AMAZEMENT invaded me. The city, the transportation, the food, the landscapes, the tidiness, the people... it was everything so different and so fantastic that it seemed my brain wouldn't be able to process all that information. It is sometimes mixed with curiosity, like when I first saw a digital vending machine, the Gundam Robot, or when I first participated in an Omikoshi parade.
And one of the things that most amazed me was the feeling of SECURITY there is everywhere. Walking a dark alley without that insecure habit of looking back, or riding a train without actually being afraid to take out your phone, tablet or even laptop is priceless, and it's definitely one of the best things about Japan. I was once said by a Japanese teacher that this "excess of peace" makes Japanese people be kind of "numb", but my point is, maybe the countries that are not secure are at fault here?
By living in a country so safe, so clean, and where people actually follow rules like having the mobile phone in silent mode, stopping at a red traffic light or refusing to drive after drinking alcohol, I think it’s inevitable to feel some kind of DUTY towards one’s surroundings. Of course perfectness doesn’t exist, and there is always that one annoying guy throwing the remains of his beloved cigar to the ground, or that old man spitting on the ground wherever he might be, but in general people have quite a strong conscience about environment. Once again, countries where people don’t, are at fault. Our world has reached such a critical point, that we are actually amazed to see things properly done. I mean, is it just me or having a train arriving on time should be normal anywhere?
I’ve always had this kind of “frustrating feeling against the world”, but seeing things actually working in Japan gives me a certain HOPE. The truth is people can do anything the right way, if they want. My honest opinion is that nobody is born with a perverse mind, but our human society is organized in such a vicious cycle that almost everyone is forcefully dragged into it, with very few resistance chances.
Somehow connected to this point is the "you trying to be you”. As you might know, Japan is a fiercely competing society. Although it is a country with a very low unemployment rate (4% as of October 2013), the search for a job is quite an outrageous thing. Basically, students wanting to proceed to a working life, register themselves on “employment activities support websites”, where they can find information about companies, like what kind of jobs are available, how much is the income, the company details, etc., as well as useful tips on how to write a CV, or how to take an interview. Not wanting to get too much into this topic (it involves tons of undesired spam overflowing in the email inbox, countless participations in seminars and lectures, hand-writing dozens of CV carefully enough so there is not a space left in blank with more than 1cm), I would rather explore the fact that Japanese companies’ interviewers are tending to say that “all candidates are the same, they have no personal appeal”. After hearing this, the first thing I thought was “why do you teach everything to the students then? I’m sure everyone has their own way of greeting a superior, asking for permission, or answering to questions with his/her own words”. And this is something that Japanese students (un)fortunately follow quite well. And if you try to have your own personality, you might find yourself dislocated, out of the group, “a person from the outside”, how they say sometimes. Of course one should follow the rules, but I have to admit there should be some limits, for the sake of mankind. It brings a kind of LONELINESS that you can only fight and repel by continuing to give your best, everyday, in your own way.
I don’t know if it’s because I am Portuguese, but when those lonely times come, I tend to think about a lot of nostalgic things such as my family, or events in my life that are long gone, to never come back. In addition, there is a kind of mysterious NOSTALGIA in Japan. Something that makes me want to randomly walk streets looking randomly around me, and feeling that I was there a long time ago. I particularly feel it in more rural places such as Kamakura and Nikko, or in not so populated areas such as parks, temples, shrines, or simply riverside walkways. I’m indeed a guy from the countryside.
It’s a really indescribable emotion, but I somehow like feeling it, as it gives me motivation to go ahead in my quest. I call it an emotion, but it’s more like a torrent of emotions: bad ones, good ones, cherished ones, forgotten ones... Sometimes there are those critical days when I feel both FULFILLMENT for what I have accomplished, and DOUBT for how to face new goals.
But whatever the feeling might be, the most important one is definitely THANKFULNESS. Thankfulness to my parents, thankfulness to my friends, thankfulness to my teachers, thankfulness to the people with whom I, someway or another, interact everyday, and most importantly, thankfulness to be alive, to have a soul, and to be able to experience all of this!
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Contest Comments » There is 1 comment
Good luck André Moreira!!! Greetings from your friends Celso and Paulinha from Portugal!