So it’s finally that time: In 12 days, I’ll be leaving Japan! Time has passed so quickly that I hardly feel like I’m qualified to make a post about my changing impressions of Japan. I think I would need to be here for ten years, at least, before I could really get a full grasp on what it is to be Japanese. However, within the scope of my limited stay here, I can definitely say I have learned a ton about Japan and Japanese culture.
Looking back on my first post about power lines, I can’t really say my views there have changed much. I still think there are a crazy amount of power lines here in Japan. But, if I had to pick the one thing that’s changed the most for me, I would say it would be my view on how the rest of the world views Japan.
This is a photo I took when I first came to Japan. Though I came to Japan to study, of course, every weekend I was out playing the tourist. Who wouldn’t be, in an interesting place like Kansai? But looking back at the photos I took, I realize that they’re exactly what people would expect of travel photos from Japan: Temples, shrines, women in kimono, beautiful nature scenes, and so on. Even though from the very start of my trip I began to see the way Japan actually exists, my photos show how much I was influenced by etic perspectives.
Fortunately, due in no small part to my Visual Anthropology class, I soon began to see Japan for what it actually is: A country full of individuals, just like any other country. Yes, there are unique cultural elements that are native only to Japan, but these things are only a small part of the stuff that makes up the whole of what it is to be Japanese. So for my last photo, I present this one:
This photo is “generic,” just like my first one, but the important thing here is that you can’t tell this comes from Japan. It does, but that’s not the point. This same photo could be taken from anywhere in the world. For me, my real changed impression on Japan is just that: Though this country offers some amazing and unique things that you can’t find anywhere else, it also is very similar to what I’m used to. Things like culture and tradition are transcended by everyday interactions between people. So while a lot of the rest of the world still views Japan like this, and though there is of course a kernel of truth in it, I hope that what I take away from Japan is a more open-minded viewpoint on foreign countries in general.
Thank you, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog!