I think it could be said that these past five days, not even a week yet, have been some of the most eventful in my entire life. Beyond my two brief trips to Canada, I have never left the country before. I barely speak the language and I stand out of the hordes of people on the subway and in the streets, quite literally. Sometimes I catch people staring at me. The second day here, as I was walking with our group back to the dorms from class, a group of school children passed. One boy pointed at me with a benign sense of awe and just said “wow!” It would be wrong to say though that people regard me with contempt or coldness, in fact it is quite the contrary. I just carry around this perpetual identity of “foreign” no matter where I go,no matter what I do. On the subway especially, I can’t shake off this subtle feeling that I do not belong. Eventually it will go away once I become comfortable in this new surrounding hopefully.
My other experiences otherwise have helped to take my focus away from the negative. While the exception of a cheese-filled fish shaped pastry (taiyaki) everything tastes amazing. The low prices for prepared foods in convenience stores and supermarkets bring me a surprising amount of joy. You simply cannot find a fresh egg salad sandwich for $2, sushi for $3, or decent sized bento boxes for $4 in America. If people were to find the same prices in America, people would exercise the proper judgement to avoid cheap egg salad and sushi. Restaurants down to convenience stores offer amazing quality for a fair price.
In the chaos of the ever changing modern Japanese urban cityscape I have managed to find many some architectural remnants of an older time scatter throughout Nagoya. In the downtown area in Sakae, between the mainly bland white and shiny rectangular boxes shooting up from ground, a Buddhist temple or Shinto shine announce their presence with large sweeping roof with heavy eaves over old trees. I could carry on with the architecture for hours. I’ll hold off on the manifesto for a later date. Basically the few things left built before the second World War have great appeal to me.
Things are going well so far. I would be fine with just these five days for the trip, yet I have another month to appreciate contemporary and historical Japan. From the Atsuta Jingu shrine, I purchased a goshuin-chō, a book that are filled with crimson stamps and calligraphy from more popular shrines and temples. As of know I have 7 different stamps, and many more to come!