Reflecting on my travel to Japan, part 2

When you’re a textbook example of a (slightly educated) bumpkin from Polish countryside somewhere in the south, Tokyo may definitely appear overwhelming. While ‘bursztynowy świerzop’ or ‘gryka jak śnieg biała’ no longer can be found in the place where I grew up (idyllic stuff our national poet wrote about few centuries ago), nonetheless time flows more slowly here, and there’s not that much going on, which greatly contrasts with the Japanese metropolis. During several days there I’ve probably seen more people than in half of my lifetime. What shocked us, however, was the small number of foreign tourists around us. I mean, there was a bunch of them in Asakusa and another quite large gathering near Hachiko statue in Shibuya, but these weren’t the hordes we expected to see on every corner (more than 20 million tourists visiting Japan yearly). Fact: Japan is just a such a homogeneous nation that the Japanese folks make up for the great majority of people there. That’s one thing Japan and Poland have in common – larger cities have some expat communities, but overall it’s Poles everywhere. As such, the hosts (locals and the domestic tourists) dominated in most places, and we were lost in the crowd (or actually we kind of stood out, towering over quite short Japanese folks). Continue reading →

Refleksyjnie o mojej podróży do Japonii, cz. 2

Gdy jest się książkowym przykładem (nieco poduczonego) wieśniaczka z polskiej wsi na południu kraju, to Tokio potrafi porazić swym ogromem. Co prawda bursztynowego świerzopu i gryki jak śnieg białej już człowiek w moich rodzimych stronach nie uświadczy, to jednak czas z pewnością płynie tu znacznie wolniej i dzieje się znacznie mniej, i szybko się okazało, że stoi to w ogromnym kontraście do japońskiego metropolis.

Podejrzewam, że przez kilka dni tam spędzonych zobaczyłem więcej ludzi niż przez pół życia. Zszokowała nas jednak względnie mała liczba zagranicznych turystów dookoła. Były jakieś tam grupki w Asakusie oraz całkiem spore walne zgromadzenie w pobliżu pomnika Hachiko w Shibuyi, ale z pewnością nie były to hordy, które spodziewaliśmy się mijać na każdym kroku (wg internetów Japonię odwiedza przeszło 20 milionów turystów rocznie, z tendencją wzrostową). Powiedziałbym, że jest to jedno z największych podobieństw między Japonią, a Polską – obydwa kraje prowadzą w braku różnorodności rasowej.  Faktem jest, że Japonia jest po prostu tak jednolita etnicznie, że w większości miejsc to gospodarze dominowali (lokalsi i turyści wewnętrzni) i praktycznie wszędzie tonęliśmy w tłumie (tudzież można rzec, że górowaliśmy nad dość niskimi Japończykami). Continue reading →

Reflecting on my travel to Japan, part 1

I’ve finally fulfilled my biggest dream and  between March and April this year I flew to the land of sakura, anime, AKB48, sake and wasabi, to spend there almost three weeks. In general it was no spontaneous ,last-minute sort of deal, which would be built around visiting those few places that pop up on the first page of Google, after writing down ‘Japan things to see’. After buying the plane ticket (more than a half a year beforehand), the real fun began, as I wanted to pick the most interesting spots to catch a glimpse of. The temples like Fushimi Inari or Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto (which first impressed me in an animated form – through anime Lucky Star), or the memorial plate  of my favorite Japanese singer – late Yutaka Ozaki, in Shibuya, Tokyo were on my trip’s must-see list from the very beginning, but the rest of the itinerary was a real dilemma. It turned out my knowledge about Japan was mostly based on countless watched anime titles, movies and TV series, and dozens or hundreds of pop and rock bands I listen to. For the next few months, I had to learn a bit more about what Japan is all about, when it comes monuments, and otherwise. Continue reading →

Cha-cha-cha-changes

Years ago, the first Polish president- internet meme Aleksander Kwasniewski, encouraged one of the ministers at that time to kiss the Polish ground, upon getting off the airplane. The poor guy eagerly did what he had been told, which was immediately met with heavy disparagement and people assumed it was an act of mockery of the Pope John Paul II.

After over 10 hours of flight I arrived at the Tokyo – Narita International Airport, and although I don’t have any desire to kiss the ground, I feel like a huge burden has been lifted off my chest. Continue reading →

Cha-cha-cha-changes

 

Niegdyś pierwszy polski prezydent-internetowy meme Aleksander Kwaśniewski, zachęcił Marka Siwca do ucałowania ziemi kaliskiej po wylądowaniu,  a ten ochoczo uczynił jak mu powiedziano, co zostało uznane za szydzenie z JPII. Dotarłem po 10 godzinach lotu na lotnisko Tokio-Narita, i chociaż całować ziemi nie zamierzam, to pojawiła się wielka ulga. Continue reading →

Lifestyle changes and decision-making

frankunderwoodI’ve known my best friend for most of my life. We went to the same elementary, secondary and high school, stayed in touch throughout the college years and we still regularly hang out. We share love for rock music and great movies, although these days we often end up discussing cultural, social or political matters instead. It does sound a bit snotty, I guess. But at one point you might take a look around, and realize that there is a very limited variety of topics you speak about with the majority of your buddies and acquaintances. To put it bluntly, these people either have no idea whatsoever about certain issues (and most likely won’t ever become aware of them, unless the Facebook timeline brings the enlightenment right in front of their faces), or simply don’t care, as they have to deal with mortgage payments, shopping lists, children’s school assignments, work projects, planning holidays and watching talent shows. Of course, those things are important. Yet for the large number of folks who build their lives around all the chores and responsibilities, self-improvement and their own needs and wishes never come into picture. Continue reading →