The most noticeable aspect of this trip that stood out during these two weeks in Japan is human interaction. I had a feeling that almost all Japanese we interacted with were genuinely happy to know us. Even strangers that we met briefly, such as the elementary school kids who said hi to us, the old lady who introduced her dog to us, or the waiter who was the sweetest waiter I have ever met, they were all so pure and genuine. At the same time, they do their work extremely well. All the people we met who talked about the work they do, or the service they provide, such as the people at the leather factory/education center, the teachers at the elementary school in Hiroshima, the one-man-play actor, the host at World Friendship Center, the volunteer tour guide at the peace park, the monks at the monastery, etc. I could feel they were not treating their job just as something to make a living. On the other hand, they pour their heart and effort into making all details perfect, and they derive a sense of meaning and happiness through the work they do, and they made other people feel their love for their work. As Ram said, we learned a lot from the polite and respectful nature of public interactions in Japanese culture, and we also learned about the unique aspects of the dignity of labor in general in the Japanese culture, as well as their attention to details.
I am deeply attracted to this culture, even more than before I went on this trip. I would love to go back to Japan again and revisit some people we met during this trip, and I would like to stay longer in Japan and get to know the people and the culture in a deeper level during a longer period of time. I want to know what Japanese people and their lives are like beneath this simple politeness and hardworking that most tourists will notice when they come to visit Japan for the first time. For example, despite the forgiveness and peaceful mindset they seem to show to foreigners regarding the Hiroshima A-bombing, I would love to know if they do feel some other hard and miserable feelings which they hid from strangers and foreigners, or if the forgiving attitude is truly deep through their bones. There is so much more that I am curious and passionate about the Japanese culture that I did not have time to explore there, but revisit Japan is definitely on my to-do list!
By, Emma Ma