Recently, my aunt asked Blake and me a few questions about our time in Japan so far, so I thought I'd turn it into a blog post!
With permission, I've included Blake's answers as well.
Q1: What's the most interesting discovery you've made in or about Japan thus far?
Blake: For a high-tech society with automation everywhere, there's a lot of very simple jobs that are done by people. Cleaning, assisting, etc.
Amanda: How respectful everyone is - of each other, of their traditions, of everything. It's particularly an aspect of the concept of "wa" or harmony, which suggests a peaceful unity and conformity. Yes, it can imply a subjugation of ones personal preferences or character, but I do find people can still be individuals while respecting others.
Q2: the most weird?
Blake: Seeing western celebrities hawking Japanese stuff. Like Tommy Lee Jones crying, while listening to an iPod, in order to sell Japanese vending machine coffee.
Amanda: Japanese advertising in general. Sometimes it make sense; sometimes it's a bunch of kids who seem to be dressed as water bottles singing about their product. In fact, about half of them were Americans (or at least Westerners)! It's very common for children of families stationed here to get modeling and acting jobs. I couldn't find a video of this particular ad (probably because I don't remember the name of the product), but I did find an old Buzzfeed listicle about American celebrities who have appeared in Japanese commercials.
Q3: the most disturbing?
Blake: Google "Japan loneliness."
Amanda: One evening heading home on the train, I grabbed an open seat. To my left was a man dressed all in yellow. Bright yellow. Bright yellow tank top, booty shorts, and yellow thigh socks or leggings. He was eccentrically accessorized as well. And a few minutes into our ride together, he started crying - not just a few tears and light sniffles, but completely and loudly sobbing. I don't know what what was going on with him, but I hope he was okay!
Q4: the most Beautiful?
Blake: Nature, and how it permeates so much of society here.
Amanda: Japan embraces a concept called "borrowed scenery" - shakkei in Japanese. Instead of tearing everything down to build a garden, they incorporate a lot of what is already there. So, even a well planned out and landscaped garden feels like it was always supposed to be there and makes the view even more spectacular.
|A shrine garden in Kyoto that uses the mountain in its design|