November 22, 2012

Japan!

It has been over two weeks since we came back from our trip to Japan. It is hard to believe that we were halfway across the world, strolling casually as you please, taking in the wonderful sights and meeting amazing people. And yet it's true! We had such a great time and I am so excited to be able to share some of my discoveries and pictures with you! 

My mind is a great heap of memories and snapshots of the trip. It is so difficult to single out an experience and at the same time impossible to wrap up all of my feelings in a few coherent sentences. Doesn't travelling do that to you too?



I was smitten by the attention to detail that the Japanese display in the day-to-day life. You can see it everywhere: in the convenience stores (the wonderful konbini we have learned to depend on), on the trains, in temples, on the street. I loved all the little shops and souvenir stalls, the adorably wrapped sweets, the careful instructions. I loved how people in shops and restaurants make a point of greeting you as you come in, making you feel special and welcome. Even if it is just part of the etiquette, isn't it a better way to spend the day? And I loved the familiar, friendly relationship people seem to entertain with their deities.



And you can bet that I could not pass by a single craft of stationary shop without poking my nose in! Japanese craftsmen put a lot of pride and care in their work, whether it as an everyday object or an intricate display piece. Even touristy souvenirs are often carefully hand crafted and truly unique to a certain area.



Washi tape!


But if we ever return to Japan for another trip (and I hope we do!), it will be for the mountains, the hot springs, and the volcanoes. Some of our favourite glimpses of Japan were those of the countryside and of the mountains, where people lead a slower life, closer to nature.




When travelling, we tend to have certain expectations. We read guidebooks, we hear stories, we are full of stereotypes and "common knowledge" about the places we go to. And that is normal. Sometimes we encounter just what we expected and sometimes we discover a side of which we never heard of. For me, Japan was an encounter with the unexpected. And what made it unexpected were not the sights or the places or the typical Japanese experiences (which were all excellent!), but rather the daily lives of regular people that we had the privilege to witness. Suddenly, Japan was not the mystical country I had imagined it to be... It was still beautiful and surprising and in many ways mysterious, but it was also welcoming, warm, and very familiar. And that made our trip that much more special.

And that is my little bit of Japan! What about you? Are you planning any trips great or small? If you could go anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?

2 comments:

  1. Wow, that looks like an awesome trip! I would love to go to Japan! Unfortunately don't have any trips lined up for holidays, but next year I have to work in Scotland for 3 months as part of my degree - still counts, right?? :) I've never been there so it's still a little exciting!

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    1. Scotland sure counts! I hope your studies are going well! I'm finishing my Master's this April, and that's quite exciting (and a little terrifying, seeing how close it's getting!).

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