Japan sweet home?

So, I’ve returned to Denmark, which has brought some sad and confused feelings upon me. Of course the main reason is that I’m once again forced to be apart from my husband for the next six weeks, another reason is the fact that I’ve returned to a country that doesn’t feel like home. I’ve felt out of place here in Europe, since I was very young. At first I didn’t know where I wanted to be instead, but I had many ideas. Though when I was around 14 years old Japan started to become a big part of my life. Here I am, almost 8 years later and 8 visits to Japan later feeling that I’ve once again returned from the country that feels more like my rightful home.

I know there are many types of Japan lovers. I’m not fully sure which type I am, but I know I’ve not spent my nights in Japan only in hotels or hostels, I know I’ve talked to a lot more Japanese people, than just those working in the supermarket, convenience store, hotel lobby or restaurant and I know that I wont declare Japan to be a perfect country. (Unfortunately my university class is full of those exact types.) I believe that there is no such thing as a perfect country and to be honest, Japan often seems farther from being that than many other countries.

I have many things I dislike about Japan and there’s even things that, no matter have books I read I will still not fully understand it. There’s even things that the Japanese don’t understand nor like, but their only answer is “that’s how it’s always been, we can’t change it”. Even my husband and I have been through countless of fight due to our cultural differences.

There seems to be too many things the Japanese dislike themselves, but no one dares to speak up and due to the way there’re brought up most don’t even seem to have the hope of change. It’s like Japan needed a proper civil revolution, but they never got it and now the world has become too modern and civilized for it to happen.

Even before I met my husband I did not sleep in hotels during my trips in Japan. I stayed with various Japanese families (homestay), I met their friends, I saw and observed their daily life, visited schools, hospitals and parties. I listened to their dreams and problems about things they didn’t seem to be able to tell their Japanese friends. In the end I got to be part of my own Japanese family and have now inherited their happy stories as well as their dark ones.

But, even despite what may sound like overwhelming negativity, Japan is the country I feel home. I don’t just miss Japan when I’m not there – I feel homesick. Which is why I’ve started to think about what I really want. I could live in Japan without much stopping me. I don’t’ have to worry about visa (I’m qualified for a spouse visa), my husband is willing to support me in what I wish to do (also financially) guess my main worry is education. I’m not happy in my current university, but I get good grades and have already finished one year which I why I hate the thought of giving it up. I just wonder if there isn’t something I could do. Our exchange program next year is only around 4 months, too short. Guess I need to talk with a professional advisor in my university next week. Well… when it comes about my last unblogged time in Japan… I got too busy with things, but I did experience various things I wish to blog about soon. Like: Disneyland, road trips, family visits and etc.

Goals and dreams.

Lately I’ve been thinking about life goals and dreams, whether mine is too small or too big, too boring or too unrealistic. Have I reached them or do they even exist at this point? It seems like it’s in the basic human nature to create goals and dreams for oneself, even from a very early age. Which probably comes from being affected from the people around us. That might be, parents, friends, school, family or others. Who did not hear the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” We actually seem forced from a young age to consider a future career, even though we don’t even have developed a realistic view of what money and work actually is.

Realism is one of the things I definitely lacking when I think back on my childhood goals. When I in the age of 8 years old wanted to become a hairdresser, even though I had no interest in hair or fashion. A few years later my dream was to be a professional handball player, without even having touched a ball before. After that I decided to aim high and my new goal was to become a lawyer, which pretty much clashed with the fact that I disliked studying. I had many childhood dreams and goals, but it seems like that amount slowly disappeared when logic, realism and rationality started to develop and required space. During middle school I realized that I had no idea of what I wanted to do in the future I only had my main point of “interest” to hold on to, Japan. I started to set up goals and dreams around this country, some seemed more realistic that others. My goal became to enter high school in order to go to university and study Japanese, which of course would be doable as long as I studied well. My dream on the other hand, seemed out of reach even to myself, I probably saw it more as a fantasy than a plausible dream. That dream was to meet a Japanese guy, fall in love, get married and live in Japan. Not really something I could actually plan and work towards.

I went to Japan for the first time after having finished my second year in high school and I fell in love with the country even more. The year after I went to Japan three times (Feb, July & Oct.)  I graduated high school and applied for university. During my 3rd visit in Japan in July, I even wrote down my wish of getting accepted on a piece of paper during the Tanabata celebrations.

(Me, 2009)

I also had another goal for my future, the only one not involving Japan; I wished to lose weight. In late July a letter from the university told me that I had not made the cut, but was guaranteed entry next year (since my grade average was 0,1 from being accepted). I decided to travel around Japan the following spring, which is when I met the guy who would be my future husband. I started studying Japanese at university in September 2010, have been to Japan 8 times in 3 years and I got married to my Japanese fiancé in April 2011. I have even managed to lose 10 kilos (around 22 lbs) in less than a year.

So, in what feels like a blink of an eye, I managed to reach most of my set goals during my school time, seems like “living” in Japan is the only goal I haven’t reached. But, life is no game, when we reach our goals it doesn’t mean it’s over and we then can celebrate. Then we need to find new goals, which makes us move forward towards the next step. For some reason I didn’t even seem to notice that I had reached my goals and dreams, maybe they were accomplished too easily to feel like an actual victory. Now I feel left at a crossroad in my life, but feel sure that I’m going in a right direction – following steps of a university education, meeting new people and enjoying new experiences and I even found somebody to keep me company during this walk. Though I wonder if I have enough hopes and dreams for what is waiting for me farther down the road. Can we have too few dreams and goals? Is; “living in Japan, having children, but have no idea about future work or such” enough future goals? Well, guess I should not have too high expectations for future goals in the age of 21. Maybe I should just start to focus on the things that are currently visible and imaginable on my current path, follow the stream and  have goals such as “having fun at the next university party” and “do not fail your next test”. I guess this is just the ramblings of a girl who suddenly found most of her goals completed faster than she expected.

Ueno Zoo.

Today we went to Ueno Zoo, which was my second visit to this park. the first being two years ago. And just like that day 2 years ago, it was a typical Japanese summer day – meaning very hot. This Zoo located in Tokyo is relatively big and the 600 yen (around 8 USD) ticket price reasonable, especially for me who grew up with ticket costing around 27 USD in Denmark.

So the main attraction is without a doubt the two Chinese Giant Pandas, which arrived to the zoo 6 months ago, replacing the panda that died back in 2008. A male and a female, named Liilii (Riirii) and Shinshin.

 

There is even a “line” to stand in if you want to see the pandas, though there weren’t really any waiting time when it came to the line for adults. People with children stood in another line, since they got closer to the pandas (easier to see for small children).There is also sold panda merchandise everywhere in the see and there is also a lot of panda decorations. Just, if you in case should forget that the zoo has pandas.

Besides pandas, my favorite animal in penguins and it’s one of the animals I always look forward to see and take pictures of.

Ueno zoo has a lot of animals to offer, more species than any other zoo in Japan, which I think it makes it worth a trip. Especially now where the giant pandas has returned. I have heard complains about a lot of the animals are kept in too small areas – unfortunately that is often the reality of zoos. I though have too agree that some of the animals, especially the big ones (like the elephants, hippopotamus and Rhino) could use more space.

 

Nishino Kana – if.

Just sharing my current favorite song, “if” by Nishino Kana (西野カナ)

This song was released back in 2010, so it’s far from new, but lately I’ve fallen in love with it and especially today it’s been on repeat quite a lot.

It’s interesting to think that I loved Nishino Kana when she first debuted with her single “I” back in 2008. A time where she only managed to sell a few hundred copies. I bought her first album when it was released, but from there my interest seemed to start declining. I never even really listened to the album. Then towards the end of 2009 Nishino Kana experienced a sudden boost in her popularity and sales increased, a lot. I decided to give her second album a listen, especially the most popular single songs, like “Aitakute Aitakute” and I saw myself started to rediscover my interest in Kana and she has especially gone of my ranks after her newest 3rd album and is once again one of my favorite female Japanese solo artists.

I guess her popularity is also well proven, when I last week saw a concert ticket for her most recent tour on sale in one of Tokyo’s many “Ticket shops”, for the “small” amount of 30,000 yen (Around 380 USD).

New Japanese books.

So, I’ve received my new Japanese books for the upcoming semester, where we apparently will go from Intermediate level to advanced. So the bunch consists of two grammar books. One of them, Tobira, (left) is an around 400 pages thick book, which seems to focus on overall language learning, where one of the key features is the use of multimedia. The content of the book is very close to being in all Japanese and only  very limited space is left to English – about 2% of the entire book. So this time around there is no long grammar of sentence explanations in English, just long texts in Japanese. Guess this book shows that my class is now headed for the advanced level.

(Tobira)

The second book, (the one in the middle) focuses on “200 Essential Japanese Expressions: A Guide to Correct Usage of Key Sentence Patterns”. It has around 235 pages, but like Tobira, English is also limited. Though in this book it might take up around 20%, with its’ grammar explanations.

The final book (right) is a Kanji book, our third book. With it’s 100 it’s not that big. Instead of teaching new Kanjis, it seems to focus more in the correct usage of the ones we have already learned, through various of drills and texts. This book is in 100 % Japanese.

Since I have not used these books, yet. I can’t do a prober review. Guess this is just a random rambling about my studies.

Odaiba & a new camera.

So I’ve now been in Tokyo a week, but since I have not been doing much, I found it difficult to update. Two days ago my husband bought me a new digital camera. A Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX7. I had an old Sony Cyber-shot, so I had been thinking about buying a new camera for some time, especially since I love taking pictures.

So yesterday I got to try this new camera out, when we went to Odaiba. Our main reason for going there, was my because my husband wanted to look at furniture for future preferences. He often acts like we’re moving to Tokyo next month, and not in a few years. Well the Odaiba bay area is famous for its’ view of Tokyo bay, including Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower.

Odaiba is also home for the Fuji Television building, which is famous for it atypical design and of course also draw in fans of Fuji TV who wishes to get a tour inside. Then there’s also the chance to got to the top by elevator to enjoy the view, which though includes paying a certain fee.

One of my favorite things when it comes to Odaiba is probably the night view, which offers Tokyo’s glittering skyline and colorful small boats. This time around Tokyo Tower was lighting up with a blue color.

Also got to try out the panorama settings on my new camera.

Odaiba panorama view. (click for bigger)