We asked each of the nine DC students to tell us one thing that is surprising/interesting/unexpected/awesome about Japanese culture.
Kamashae: The one thing that definitely caught my eye was the amazing hospitality. No matter your age, or their age. Respect plays a huge part in everyday life here in Japan. From when our group goes to restaurants, the plate setting. To when we go to gift shops, how they wrap and bag the gifts. To in hotels how they leave damp wash towels so customers could have access to a cool rag after a hot summer day in Japan. Japanese culture also even stands outside as guests are leaving their businesses or homes and wave us goodbye until the vehicle has left their view, which I think is very polite.
Jeffrey: The community in Minamisanriku was really surprising to me, because it allows everyone in the community to have a chance to be famous kind of like a small town celebrity, which was really cool to me. And I loved their mascot octopus-kun, who was a great addition to community because he isn’t owned by anyone but the community, so everyone can love him without any higher up being involved. Also I really liked how everyone in town was accepting and willing to help each other in times of needs while putting their own needs before themselves, which to me is what a community is meant to be.
Maxx: Something that really I like about Japan is its connection with nature. The people of Minamisanriku depend on the water and its life in order to survive using its water for drinking, cleaning, and other uses, and the fish to of course eat. The main reason this impresses me is because the waves of the ocean are beautiful and just to breath the air of wild life is extraordinary. But the people of the town have seen nature at its most horrifying and even though being scared, they forgave and loved the sea wholeheartedly and that I feel is amazing.
Yeysi: “Food” was a word that at first scared me because I learned that Japanese people have different food than the ones that I am used to eating. There are some types of food that I still don’t like although I try everything I can. So far my favorite food is Tempura. Tempura is a Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried. This dish makes me feel in home.
Tempestt: Japan’s hospitality is the best by far. Getting greeted every time you walk in to a place; they show much respect. It feels good to be welcomed in a place where there aren’t many people of your color or looks. There have been some times where I walk around and I see Japanese people staring at me. I stare back and greet them with a smile. I keep in my mind and remember that Japan isn’t really a diverse country and that’s why many look at me as if I am someone different. It actually makes me feel special because I feel like all eyes are on me.
Chris: My best moments in Japan were going outside experiencing the nature. I’m an addict when it comes to scenery. I love embracing myself into the wilderness or looking at the architecture of the buildings. I feel inspired to bring out my drawing pad and taking a quick drawing.
Elijah: The Japanese style futon was interesting. The Japanese futon is a 3 folded bed!!! It is very comfortable and for the first time in a long time I actually slept like a baby. The bed was the best because I didn’t want to get up. The bed was the best thing so far.
Kiara: What’s so interesting about Japanese culture, mainly in Minamisanriku, is the friendliness and “at home” feeling I have whenever we go anywhere. Seeing so many smiling faces in a place highly affected by the tsunami lifts my spirits up and lets me see the strength that this town has. With every person that I meet, whether they be one of our speakers or passersby taking a picture of people enjoying the summer festival, my heart warms up.
Clinard: The thing that I enjoy the most while being here is the calm and quiet atmosphere that exists here. It’s so much different from what I’m used to. Where I am from, the streets are loud and the places are busy. There is a lot of commotion when people are travelling in groups. But here, it’s considered to be “controlled chaos”. For a place with many people, it seems to be regulated pretty well.