After launching my own personal blog, I’ve been very skeptical about what I should start writing. What to begin with, what topics I should pick first and most importantly setting the tone of my blogs. One thing I was pretty sure, it would have definitely related to some of my trips I’ve been to by now.
Yesterday we had a get-together with all of the Japan exchange program members in honor of Professor Dr. Koichi Fujita from Kyoto University, Japan who is currently now in Bangladesh for official work. Heartfelt gratitude towards our mentor Taufiqul Islam Mithil Sir for inviting us there. While having my lunch that’s when I realized it’s going to be a year of this amazing trip. Instantly, it got me nostalgic and emotional at the same time, sharing the table with these same people just before it’s almost about to be a year. I went back home carrying all the emotion and fall asleep. It’s 3 AM and I just woke up suddenly, constantly having the flashbacks, tried to sleep again though it didn’t work out. Then I thought why not put all these overflowing emotions in words. There I go start writing about the 7 takeaways from Japan trip.
The People- Polite, Kind, Humble
If anything that strikes my mind first is their people with high morals, values, and ethics. Before going there, I used to know that Japan is a polite nation, people are very friendly and helpful. Having said that, trust me, until you meet them, you won’t truly understand that these people are more than that. I feel so privileged to stay 15 days among these amazing human beings. From visiting so many different places to having lunch together, I’ve learned a great deal from them. You can’t stop talking about their humbleness and the generosity once you experience them.
The initiator of the exchange program who sponsored 9 of the students, helped us achieve something that many of us once dreamed it to happen in a distant future. Mr. Yoshy Iwaki sensei, a man of honor. He was with us constantly throughout the trip, driving us to places, cooking food for us, taking care of small things. All he did by himself. Imagine, a man of this stature accompanying you the entire time.
Sugioka san, a person of our father’s age, never left any stone unturned to make us feel comfortable in a place so far away from home. All of us had to do our own household chores and we could never stop him from helping us.
Generally, people are hard-working, energetic, can literally walk miles and miles regardless of their age. People are very welcoming, they always put a smile on their face. Though I find them quite shy, they’re kind, formal and very respectful as well. Bowing down to each other is their way of greetings. If you go to a shop to buy something, you can see how politely the cashier will give you the change, obviously with Arigato Gozaimasu.
Disciplined Life is a Key
Japanese people are extremely disciplined. This quality has been instilled in them from early school days and hoikuens play a great role in this. Hoikuens are like daycares where busy parents send their little children due to their heavy work schedule. Such a hoikuen was Minori Nursery School where we got the opportunity to go and visit. The children there were so playful yet very disciplined. They do maintain strict routines and actively involved in creative games and projects. It was amazing to see those wonderful little kids doing different creative tasks. I’ll write another article just on this school visit experience. There is no chaos in train or bus stations as people always maintain a queue and wait for their respective bus or train. Here’s an interesting thing, people in Japan always tend to maintain a single sideline while standing in escalators so that the people who are in extreme rush can use the other side to go quickly. If you go to someone’s house and put off your shoes, you must have to keep them in a proper way together. You just can’t randomly put it off and place anywhere. It’s a primary custom to keep the chair inside the table always.
Time is Quality. Time is Money.
Japanese are best known for their punctuality. This is one of the core reasons for today’s success. Like you’ve heard, trains never miss to come on time and rightly so. We mostly used to travel around on shinkansen aka the bullet train and express trains. And they were never late. Time is money for them as their primary tendency is to focus more on their works. They even have their own techniques and technologies to cook faster, unlike us they don’t prefer to waste time on cooking stuff. If they say they’ll pick up us at 8 o’clock, it’ll definitely be 8 o’clock. And yes, we’re habituated Bengalis, most of the time we made them wait for us. We used to wake up late, gave more time on getting dressed and all. Japan has set an example of how you can utilize the time properly in life and become successful.
People are Extremely Cultural
You can’t stop talking about Japanese culture once you start. Japanese are worldwide famous for their rich cultures, customs, and traditions. Luckily, we got to experience some of their cultures and customs very closely. What strikes me the most is that they have these state-of-the-art museums all over Japan to showcase their history. I saw people coming from different countries crying in the Hiroshima museum while looking at the historical documents and artifacts. Every one of us got emotional while in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. We had been to tea festival, learned how to make tea and then drink it. You need to sit on your laps, pick up the bowl, twirl it and then take a sip. Onsen aka hot springs are very popular in Japan and considered as a tradition, people enjoy this a lot. Before entering into an onsen, one must have to clean themselves first. No swimsuit is allowed there. However, you can take a small piece of cloth with you.
And not to forget about the Samurai. In Japan, there are so many Samurai castles you can visit and see how they used to live and guard. When we checked in to Hotel Gyokusen in Matsue, the opportunity came to wear the traditional Japanese Yukata. Among many other notable things, Torii gate is something you’ll see a lot if you travel around places in Japan. Unlike the rest of the world, Japenese have a different bedding system. They use futons- a couch mattress laid out on the floor and it’s a custom to fold it back when you’re not using it.
Walk With You to Your Destination
Would you accompany a lost person until the person finds their destination? Well, in Japan, if you ask someone for directions they’ll happily accompany you to your destination without getting bothered at all. Once we were searching for a gadget shop in Shiga and so we asked a traffic surgent the direction. He could’ve just given us the directions but didn’t hesitate to go the extra mile for us as he accompanied us until we reach near the shops.
Hard to Find Dirt
Japan is extremely clean. You can literally sit anywhere without any hesitation. They look after their cities very well. One thing I liked very much that they’ve different garbage bags for different materials. Bottles are always destroyed and then dumped into the garbage. Hardly you find dirt anywhere as they keep their roads clean, their neighborhoods clean. You can’t imagine the precision of their cleanliness, it’s that clean.
The Standing Ovation
The day 8 was a big day for everyone of us as we were supposed to attend a dinner party organized by Otsu Rotary Club in honor of us. As to represent our country, all the males wore Punjabi and the females wore Saree. In that room there were many renowned businessmen of Shiga as well as people of higher stature. Upon arriving there, they all gave us a standing ovation as we were entering the room. All of us were greatly moved by this gesture. At that point I was thinking do we even deserve this? Can you imagine this happening in our country? I think not. It’s their way of showing respect to the guests. No matter how big you’re, stay to the ground. A great lesson learned.
Those 15 days in Japan has helped me in broadening my perspectives. During my bachelor's, by the grace of Almighty, I’ve got so many opportunities and also lost some as well. Japan came to my life as a kind of a jackpot. It’s been a year now. Whenever I reminisce the memories, it always gives me good vibes. Japan has been etched into my heart. I really wish to go there again. When I’m about to publish it, last year at this very time we all were at the airport and we were in doubt about our flight whether we can depart or not. That’s another story, I’ll tell another day.