Thursday, July 21, 2011

Digesting Japan

I have now been back to Canada for 2 and half weeks and I have been able to digest a little of my experiences in Japan. Reflecting back on Japan has been much different than it was when I looked back on things when I returned from China.

When I left China I was stressed and tired of the the conditions that I was living in and the work I was doing, not to count that I was attempting to prepare for a thesis more than 7000km away from school. However, I left Japan grudgingly. I did not want to leave Japan and did a lot to try to remain in the country.

I applied to more than 20 firms in Tokyo and the surrounding area in the hopes that I could land a decent job. A few firms replied to my applications with mostly the same answer, they had no positions at the time. One firm wanted to hirer me immediately, but could not pay me anything. One would think that due to the events in the north of Japan that there would be a boom for construction, it was not the case. While construction was taking place, Japanese complicated system of corporations took the majority of the work. This left smaller firms out of luck. Unable to get the architectural job I was looking for and having an expiring entry permit, it was time for me to leave Japan.

I miss Tokyo. It has been hard to process things in Japan while I reside in my hometown. The juxtaposition of the dense urban environment of Tokyo and the familiarity of my rural hometown has left me feeling lost. I was only gone for exactly 3 months and while everything in Japan was new to me, return home in that short time to see a world I left the exact same. What felt like many months of living in Tokyo was only a short period of time felt back home. Many times my family and friends would not see me for periods of time longer than 3 months with school, work and living hundreds of kilometers from home.

I miss Japan. Anyone who have traveled to Japan for any extended period of time always feel a longing to return. Its a world completely opposite to ours, but opposite in a wonderful way. Its a world that many of us could replicate on some scale social, politically, and architecturally way. The density of Tokyo provided me an almost comforting claustrophobia. You were never far from many amenities and if you had a distance to travel, it was easily reachable. Now living in my rural hometown, vast distances and open space feel frightening.

I miss structure. I have been swimming in the Ottawa river near my hometown and I see it in a totally different perspective. My time in Japan has altered my perception of the space around me. I appreciate the openness I have here, but miss the proximity that I had with people and places. I was altering my lifestyle in Tokyo and was starting to enjoy the living style I could have there. To be back I have longed to continue that lifestyle, but have been having a hard time pushing myself back into it. I fear that I may slump back in to the routine I had before I left.

I miss my friends in Japan. I met many people in Japan, many more than I did when I was in China. My friends in Japan folded me into their groups where I was able to meet many more friends. Not counting my friends in Canada, but the friends I made in Japan was far easier to make than here in Canada. I found that I could make friends with vastly different types of people in Japan while in Canada I find that people lump themselves into tight social groups. The social structures in Japan seem to be a bit more fluid, where the work social structures could be abandoned for a different social structure. But what I miss most of all about my friends was the eagerness to remain friends. Many of my newly made friends would continuously follow up with me when I hadn't communicated for a couple days and others would urge me to come join them for parties and events.

I miss the unknown. Tokyo presented me with an almost continuously changing landscape to explore. I would never be able to see all of Tokyo, and even if I could the turn over of spaces in Tokyo would render my previous explorations useless. Tokyo is a massive organism that is continuously changing, rebuilding, collapsing and modifying itself. My fondest memory of Tokyo is my train rides to work where I would stair across the never ending urban landscape. The city went on forever and so could my explorations.

I will be back to Japan. I has changed me to the core and I must get back to Japan.