Japan, Day 44 - Departing Nagoya

November 14, 2011

I've wrapped up my immersion in Japanese family life. I've probably learned more from the Ishidas in the past 3 days than I have in the entire month of October.

Part of my reason for spending the month in Yonago was to get context on Japaneseness. Tourists always report being overwhelmed by Tokyo, the neon, the lights. But millions of Japanese live in Tokyo without Tokyo overhwhelming them – like those of us living in New York tolerate New York. We understand New York for the animal it is and roll with the inanity and absurdity we see every day in the context of its American-ness. Wouldn't I better understand the big cities of Japan if I saw them from the ground up in a context of regular Japanese living, like the way I have coming from Pittsburgh to New York City? I don't think all of America is like the mania in Times Square. Japan couldn't smothered in neon of Tokyo.

I can see the country as an outsider, be confused, be overwhelmed by even the smallest details in things like eating at a fast food joint

Japanese language lessons did well to increase my vocabulary but I'd not had the opportunity to get real-life practice or, more importantly, context for things. Japanese is so context-based that it's almost impossible to pick up the language outside of the situations in which it's being used.

On the topic of

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