Sunday, February 28, 2010

Japanese People

When I first arrieved in Japan, I didnt know any Japanese person. I had no idea how they are, their character, behaviour, psychology... It seems silly to say that right now since people from all over the world are all the same. Every one is different in its own way. With the program of speaknig partner here in Kansai Gaidai, I met my speaking partner, who introduced her japanese friends to me, and from there I started meeting more people. Since we hang out a lot, we talked a lot about anything and everything; From their hobbies to their religion to their culture, to how they view the world in general. Not only that, but we are surrounded by only Japanese people wherever we go in the street, the restaurants, the malls... Everywhere people are helpful, quiet, nice, , attentif, obligeant, helpful, bow whenever we pass our eyes cross theirs as a form of politeness. At first I was very surprised by that behaviour, then I came to the conclusion that Japanese people are just nice and polite without any ulterior motives as it is in my country or the other countries where I have been. I guess that makes Japanese people special and different in a way.
As an example of this kindness, instead of asking my friends to take their pictures for my post and talk about them, I just went to the CIE building and asked strangers to do so. It wasnt that difficult really I just went to the computer lab and the lounge and asked two girls, introduced myself amd asked them if I can take their pictures and post it in my blog. At first they were very shocked then explained that it was for my Anthropology class, and that we are doing an academic blog, and that today's post is about Japanese people. After hearing my explanation, both the girls said that they are going to be happy to help. I started by asking questions about their hobbies, studies... in order to get to know a bit about them and have ideas about how to take their pictures. And the result was as follow:

Her name is Yuki. And she is a 4 year student in Kansai Gaidai. She is studying Latin American Literature, and speaks very good English as well as Spanish. She likes shopping, going to karaoke and spending time with her friends. She has already been outside of Japan many times before so she was very chil talking to my friend and I about everything she likes to do. She is also a computer assistant in the CIE's computer lab. I thought that she would be an Engeniering student since she is an assistant there but she said that it is just her part time job and that she is not a fan of computers, it is just that she hapen to know a lot about them. Yuki is from Osaka so it takes her really long time to come to Hirakata 3 days a week to work (Japanese student have a holliday right now). Yuki was very nice talking to us and answering our questions, she also was a little bit shy. What i wanted to show in this picture is Yuki in her desk with her laptop working. At first Yuki wanted to put the peace sign then we agreed not to go with this percepective and make the picture show she really felt about working on computers while she doesnt like it. By that I wanted to take a picture that showed a bit of sadness in her eyes because she had to work there to make some money without taking away some of her natural charms.

Her name is Ai which means 'Love' in Japanese. She is a 4th year English major and speaks very good English. She has already been to the US before, and knows a lot international people, so she was not shy while talking to my friend and I. She also did not ask a lot of questions about the blog. I still gave her the information as we studied in class that we need to introduced the subject and tell people about our work especially if they are going to be a part of it. Ai is living in Hirakatachi during the period of her studies which makes it easier for her to come to school and go to her part time job in a chinese restaurant that is in near the train station. Ai likes watching movies with her friends, reading books, chatting, and hanging out. But her biggest love is music, singing karaoke and she listens to music all the time. I wanted to show this part of her personality in her picture because when I went to talk to her not only she was doing her homework but also listening to music at the same time. I asked her to hold her music player in her hands over her work to show that music comes first in her life than even studies. And she is smilling in the picture because she has a beautiful smile and I wanted to show that in the picture as well.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Neighborhood Hirakata

Where to begin... I have been in Japan for 6 months now, and everywhere I go in Hirakatashi, seems like being at home. But the road that I take everyday is the one from my seminar house to school. Thus, I choose to talk about this part specifically.
When I first came to Japan, and tried to learn my way to school, it was a little bit difficult. As the majority of the students bike, we take the a small road between houses because the school's housing buildings are in a living neighborhood. As all the houses there are small, it was difficult to remember where to turn, so I kept on losing my way. This rises a conflict between the fact that the houses near by are really small and the University's housings are very big.
I have been living in the same seminar houses since lat semester and I like it. The students there are not allowed to make a lot of noise because of the neighboors who used to complain a lot to the school about the international students. As a result, that gives a very bad reputation about foreigners. At first i found it odd that the neighbors knew which school to complain to then I got told that Kansai Gaidai is the only foreign language school in Hirakata, and so Japanese people are really familiar with the international students and their problems.
Near the Seminar Houses(SH) is also a park where we enjoy the sunny days; find Japanese families playing games, and sports with their children during the weekends, people drawing, playing guitar and walking their doggs everynight. As for international students, they meanly use it to get drunk and be loud at nights.
What I like also is the fact that next to my SH there is the University's Gym where we go to play games with Japanese students. And that too, contrasts with the fact that everything is located in a small, quiet,typical Japanese neighborhood.
The neighborhood is surrounded by not only the park, the gym, the houses and the SHs but also by a lot of shopping places where it makes it easier for us students to find our way to the near by shops to shop for food, clothes,liquor... There is also a bus stop right accross the park and a near by Nepolese restaurant. All this is making the lives of the students, as myself, easier.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Early Impressions of Japan

Before coming to Japan, I never studied academically the country, its traditions, culture, or religions. All I had were my stereotypes. All the general assumptions that everybody makes about Japan and its people. That people are very fashionable, that everything is technological, big and new, robots everywhere doing the service, some kinds of extraordinary cars that nobody saw before. Once I landed in Japan, some of my assumptions vanished right away; people were not all fashionable . There were no big streets but only small ones, with very small cars going back and forth. People were using more bicycles than cars. I thought of Japan as being a modern country while sometimes I feel like its people are more traditional than modern. Also, my impressions of Japan are not only desappointing but also surprising in the way that I was surprised by how people are organized. They have specific places for everything. Places where you are supposed to smoke, put your umbrella, shoes, linens, and EVEN trash. I knew before coming here that, in Japan, they recycle everything, but never knew that they organize the trash. And that each peace of garbage needed to be put in its own place.Wherever you go, you find many trash bins one next to the other, where you can put your trash in the right way. Surprising and amazing at the same time. Another thing that cut my attention is the supermarkets, you can buy everything from there, even cooked food or shall I say Meals. Whatever supermarket you go to, you find these huge varieties of meals from Salads ro Fish to Meat to Raw Fish to Rice...That is surprising actually because in my country, you can't find any. Either you go out for meals or cook. You certainly don't find cooked meals in shops. Although I have been in Japan for a while now, I still can't understand fully what I am seeing or experiencing as Japan has these huge contradictions. By that I mean the big houses that are built just next to the small ones, so you never know where are rich people from poor people; also the fact that Japan is modern but its people are very traditional in their values and culture. But I guess these contradictions are what makes Japan special.