Reflections (Part II): Sayonara Japan

I’m just going to mumble and jumble around on my reflections out of my stay in Okinawa.

1. It’s a small world after all.

The world is  big. There I was, landed in Okinawa, a very small part of Japan. And Japan, not in the slightest, has a very unique culture. One of their great attributes is really the fact that their traditions are still in tact. It’s incredible. Even I cannot compare that to my own motherland. It makes me realize though that if you take a moment, even just a minute, to know someone who is far different from you, you will eventually find similarity, a common ground. That despite differences, we are all the same. That’s a contradictory statement but that’s what I got when I talked to this two friendly Japanese girls.

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They were the one who approached me. I tried my best to understand what they were saying. They were scribbling down their notebooks. They have a lot of drawings, and poems written on it, both Japanese and English. I saw that they drew minions of the movie Despicable Me. I pulled out cellphone and showed them that I play the apps Minion Rush. They smiled and showed that they too play the same cell phone apps.

I’m not just talking about culture from culture. If you take a minute to communicate with someone maybe you don’t get along, someone you feel awkward to talk to, or someone you even hate, you can find a commonality between each other. And then you can work on that common ground, explore it, expand it or dispose it. Either way, you find something and you define yourself among the others around you. If we can just listen, amidst barriers, difficulties and differences, you’ll quickly realize there’s a connection amongst us all.

2. Lost in Translation

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It’s sometimes frustrating not understanding signs or other people with different language other than yours. I, myself, even got mad at a taxi driver before. It was so difficult to communicate with him, he was smiling at our questions and I really felt like he was stalling us. It’s awful to see the meter going up without an insurance that we would get to our destination so I really showed my frustration to that taxi driver. I really felt bad afterwards. You can find yourself easily lost when you approach a restaurant menu, a vending machine, an arcade game or looking at signs on the road. In the end, it made me realize how awesome it is to experience that. When you buy something or order at a restaurant, there’s a lot of body movements and hand gestures that go on first before you get to your point. And that’s amazing! I definitely extended my patience from being there.

One of my Featured Bloggers, Johanez Jonas, advised it best – Go to places where people don’t know your language.

3. Live while we’re young.

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It happened during our first night out in Okinawa. There’s this group of kids that were dancing to the tune of this pop song that in chorus it goes “Tonight, let’s get some and live while we’re young.” All the kids were smiling, looking so happy as they dance and jump around, and they really just look so jaunty. It was so memorable. That moment was so infectious, I carried the message of the song and the smiles on their faces all throughout my stay in Okinawa. It added more on my zest for life, go-getter attitude.

[I don't have the picture of that particular group but I will upload it and edit this post when I can.]

4. May Peace Prevail on Earth

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Japanese people are the nicest group of people I know. Coming here on the island, we were warned not to worry about our belongings if we left it inside a taxi. They will go out of their way to bring it back. I experienced and proved that when someone chased me up to when I was going down the stairs just to return back the money I overpaid.  And they really are just very well-mannered people. These are things I just don’t expect in other countries or areas I’ve ever been to.  It’s even more exponentially admirable, amenable to think that they had a horrible part in history. Today, Japanese will tell you that the bombing of Pearl Harbor is the most humilitating part of history they wish to never happen again.

I guess, we all can really learn from them.

Some more of Okinawa  …

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Although Linda Arthur Tejera of Living With My Ancestors just recently bought a fancy camera, my favorite post from this prolofic photo challenge machine is this set of iPhone pics.

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50 thoughts on “Reflections (Part II): Sayonara Japan

  1. Great post! I agree to all four points. And you are so lucky you had the opportunity to be with people different from you. I grow up with prejudice about Japan and its soldiers, all due to my moms account of what happened to them during world war II and how the Japanese soldiers acted then. Your #4 point has altered my own impressions and see them in a better light. Thank you.

    • Oh yeah. My parents and my grandparents advised me to watch out of Japanese people. They told me to watch out oarticularly of their temper. They know more of the aggresion Japan had with the Philippines so I don’t blame them for that perception. I never experienced anything with bad temper or any bad attitude with Japanese people. So I really told them that WWII was a thing of the past.

    • That’s the amazing part. I didn’t set this up. It turns out that most of my reflections are not exactly pulled from the places I went to but with my views and interactions with people.

  2. Nothing pleases me more than meeting people from other cultures, as well as learning and seeing photos. It’s sad that there are a few bad apples at times because generally people are good, kind and wonderful all over the world!

  3. Great post and photos! And I couldn’t agree with you more – traveling opens up our hearts and minds. Japan is one of my favourite countries. You’re so lucky to have had a chance to live and experience life in Japan :)

    • Well hello there happysherlock. I remember your cherry blossom post so well. ;) Your images are far more awesome but I’m just so glad to have seen it from the source.

  4. i have to learn more. but i heard at that time japan couldn’t help but starting a war. all asian countries were occupied by western countries. japan was driven into the corner. the first idea came from release from invasion of western countries. unfortunately, radical group took control of the government and led people to the horrible incident. sorry and maraming salamat ! you give me a chance about what people in other countries think. i’m going to learn more and more.

  5. Rommel, you couldn’t have summed up your visit any better. You most definitely made the most of your stay and dug deep to appreciate a new culture. What lasting memories you are taking away.

  6. Dear Rommel, your visit to Japan and this post is fantastic! As I was reading, I kept saying, yes, I must comment on that, then the next thing would come along, and yes, I must comment on that. Let me say to each one, first, I do so agree that if we can get past our differences we can always find something in common. Granted, it does take both parties, but it’s wonderful when it happens! Second, it’s true that language can be a barrier but given time and a little effort, there are ways around it as you so aptly pointed out. Third, I cannot stress it any better than you did — live while you’re young. There’s no better time! And, fourth, the only way peace on earth will happen is if everyone did #1! Since that’s not happening, we’ll have to make our own little place on earth as peaceful as we can! Thank you for mentioning me in your post, Rommel. I’m afraid I have to tell you that there was apparently something wrong with the particular camera I bought and I had to take it back. For now, rather than exchange it, I’ve decided to wait and I am back to using my iPhone and I am happy as a clam with it! Liking my photos on my iPhone better than on the fancy camera! :) Sorry to write so much. Take care and happy travels. I look forward to each of your posts! Linda

    • I was going to say that about #4 to #1, but I was hesitant to sound too cliche. But seriously, if can look pass our difference and work on our common ground. The small tiny location we are now, we can make our world bigger.

      It proves time and time again that cellphone images will suffice.

  7. Thank you for this informative and educational post, Rommel. You don’t just take and post photos, your photos contains your experience and your understand about people…I don’t recall that I have ever learned so much from a another young man.
    Japanese government paid a lump sum money to help China build a modern China in the 80s (e.g. many hospitals), they also provided financial support to the restoration of The Sistine Chapel Ceiling, one of the very few things Japanese have contributed to the world. Thank you, Rommel!

    • :D Thanks for the kind words, Amy. I try to get to the heart of a place from time to time. And thanks for the info. I would never think about that about the Sistine Chapel fact.

  8. I think you did a terrific job in this post in pointing out some wonderful attributes of Japanese culture. Your thoughts about people are as wise as they are needed. The photos give me a feeling that I’m there.

  9. I can see that you will miss Japan greatly… About your language section: hand gestures can be even more ambiguous and misinterpreted than incorrectly used words. For example, we all know that thumbs up are just thumbs up, and I have a friend on Malta that is nuts about showing thumbs up whenever he can, but less than 600 km up north on Sardinia thumbs up is considered a very rude gesture :S. Sorry for digressing, as always the part about language was the focus of my attention :) Thank you for showing us so much of Japan. This may very well be my only trip (virtual or otherwise) to those parts. Have a safe trip back, Rommel!

  10. Wow, Rommel, you really immersed yourself in the Japanese culture and way of life whilst you were there. Thanks for all the great photos and accounts of your experiences there. How heartwarming to hear of such honesty in this day and age. I love that peace monument overlooking the ocean. Amen to that. :)

  11. Your photos, so beautiful and colorful, really do show the diversity of the country, and highlight different experiences you’ve enjoyed. I think you really express the best of intercultural competence. You observe differences but without judgment. You’re simply open to new experiences and you differentiate between the beauty of people and the complexities of governments and political structures. You do immerse yourself in whatever country you’re living in, and that makes you an ideal ambassador! I love your approach, Rommel.

    • I’m scheduled to leave Cali to another state or two for vacation. :D I shouldn’t say where because every time I announce it prior I always jinx it. Ahihihi. :D

  12. Your images are so full of life and colour, Rommel. :) I really liked your first point about us reaching out to each other, to try and find the common ground. If only there was more of that in our world. I’m glad you found it in Okinawa.

    • The fact that Okinawa is a tiny piece of Japan made me realise that. Although, in my line of work I already know I practiced or experienced enough to interact with a wide spectrum of different personalities.

  13. People always say that Japanese culture is steeped in tradition. The most admirable and necessary tradition they have is a sense of honour. That perspective of rightliness certainly permeates most citizens very deeply; hence why you were chased down to have your excess money returned to you. Many Japanese find it very difficult to live with themselves if they dishonour their families or their names by misdeeds and general inconsiderations.

    Indeed, the whole wide world could benefit from their example.

    • That’s exactly it, Allan. You hit the nail on the head. They have so much pride, honor and reputation that they don’t do anything bad not to ruin their credibility or their family or name.

  14. It is amazing when we end up a journey to a place that completely new to us.. The culture, the history, the food, the way of life. Those things are strange yet not impossible to understand.
    Now it’s time to say goodbye to Okinawa, next.. Welcoming Costarica perhaps?

    • Very nicely put. That it the amazing thing. We can communicate and understand each other if only we take time and patient.
      How I wish I can just go to any place like Costa Rica, but my work continues back here in California.

  15. Lovely recap, Rommel! “f you take a minute to communicate with someone maybe you don’t get along, someone you feel awkward to talk to, or someone you even hate, you can find a commonality between each other.” –> my favorite part of this post.

    Where are you off to next?

  16. Rommel, I always look forward to your posts. Your images are always breathtaking, telling a story, as these above do as well. This has always amazed me about you. But, your introspective reflections touched me more than your stunning images. Exposing ourselves to other cultures is the only way to truly understand the common threads that connect all of us around the world. Beautiful, beautiful post Rommel…one of your best! And the best image in this post, why your photo of course! :)

  17. Oh wow, bits and pieces of Japan this time (I haven’t found time to blog lately, so am really overwhelmed with the latest from my blogger friends, lol – in a good way of course!).
    So, Japan…wow! Well, good capture as ever, I’ve always enjoyed your photography. ‘Really enjoyed the virtual tour as well.

  18. the beautiful side of blogging…the virtual travels available to experience like your tour of Okinawa. because of your passion to not only capture the culture and events with your camera, you add valuable insights with your thoughtful commentaries. learning about their reverence for tradition and honor for their ancestors and family name is something good to ponder and incorporate into our own daily life. btw…you look great in blue :P

  19. Pingback: Memory Monday: Crowd | The Sophomore Slump

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