Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Forgetting Home, Losing the Day

Kanji of the Day

Denki, electricity
電気, read as でんき
ki is also found in...
Genki 元気
Similar to... rai, thunder,
So 電気, in some ways, means "electrical spirit"
Linked from here - good Kanji site.

It's a little surreal to have visited the point of my arrival in Japan. I've visited many places in Chugoku more than once, but none of them quite had the same effect as returning to Okayama, my entry point into my current home. Memories come flooding, feelings surface, and I realized that I'm infinitely more comfortable in Japan that I had been when I was first thrust into the Shinkansen and put through the ordeal of eikaiwa training.

I remember what it was like to be home... but even for my excellent synapses, those memories are slowly floating down the river as each new dawn approaches. I know homes are meant to have a dishwasher and oven... I know that, but I've become accustomed to doing without. I remember plastic containers for milk and orange juice, that somehow these containers extended shelf life and ensured a purer taste. I can recall when I didn't eat rice for months at a time; yet here I always enjoy the soothing presence of my rice cooker. Steadfast, truthworthy, reliable.

I can still imagine a world of steak sliced larger than a pancake's width, cities with no karaoke bars within sight, English on every sign and spoken by all... well, I could still be talking about Japan; they are really open to English.

Nevertheless, this is my home now. My contract with my eikaiwa will end by next June at the latest, and I am searching for work in the greater Tokyo area following its completion. Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your help, as I try to help you understand this country of ours. I'm not here to be a foreign novelty to the citizens. I'm not here to criticize cultural difference - rather, enlighten others about them. I'm here to live, to live my life as I would in any other place on Earth. This is no different for me than moving to a new city in the US, starting a life, and moving forward. Japan is just as much an opportunity as I could ever find.

I'll have to keep these things in mind as I return home for the holidays... my first visit back as a Japanophile. I know it'll feel like I never left. I know I'll splurge on fully American experiences, and soak up everything I missed. But it's a visit, a glimpse. Nothing more. What you leave behind isn't as important as how you lived your life.

I have to admit, as a final note - I may just walk up to random people and start shouting at them in English, just for the thrill.

Random Cultural Experiment
Want to try something unique? Start jamming on a shofar - they really should be used more than twice a year. No, I'm not Jewish. Just enjoy messing with my readers minds. That, and I think I heard a shofar band parody on Conan O'Brien.

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