My first introduction to Japanese culture was an anime my brother gave me to watch when I was around thirteen. I still remember watching it. Ninja Scroll, a little film about a traveling samurai, and I remember being amazed by both the culture depicted as well as the entirely new style of animation that I was seeing. It was captivating, and I was absolutely hooked.
Shortly thereafter, after making some friends in high school who shared my love of all things Japanese, we discovered that one of our teachers had lived in Japan, and spoke fluent Japanese. We decided that, as freshman, our school needed a Japanese class. We set about creating the petition, getting the signatures, and convincing him to teach the class. He accepted, and then in sophomore year, we started Japanese 1.
It still ranks as one of my two favorite classes that I’ve ever taken. (The other was a choir class that I took.) I learned more Japanese language (hiragana, katakana, and a decent amount of kanji) in that first year than I did in any subsequent class or tutoring session. We also delved into culture, issues of politeness and honor. Our instructor was also an Eastern medicine practitioner, and he did a live demonstration of acupuncture on another teacher during our class. He made the language a fun and exciting proposition for us – learn Japanese, explore the world.
Unfortunately, our beloved Japanese instructor moved on to bigger and better things, though many of us have kept in touch with him over the years. The incoming teacher was of a more traditional countenance, and suddenly the joy that inhabited the class was lessened.
Since then I spent much of my time in vocal or acting training, and spent several years working as a professional actor in Central Florida. I received my bachelor’s in business administration, considering running my own theatre someday. Upon hearing of the closing of the Kabuki-za theatre, I had wanted to travel to Japan then and see a performance. Regrettably I was unable to make the trip at that time.
It had long been my dream to travel, but the common everyday things made it impossible, or so I thought. In 2016, following the end of a three-year relationship, I decided to travel to Europe. So, in just over a month I booked airline tickets, a couple of nights in a hostel, and bought some gear. From the decision made in the second week of February to travel, and at the end of March when I actually left, I had just five weeks to prepare.
Then, last year, another month in Europe. Still, Japan has been calling to me the entire time. My Dad and Step-Mom are even getting over there in two months, before I have the chance to.
That then is my intention for this year. To make it to Japan. Possibly a few other places (Nepal, Bhutan, China and Thailand, perhaps).
Hopefully something will work out, in the way it always seems to do.