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 →

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 →

Visiting Yutaka Ozaki in Shibuya, Tokyo

ozaki3

Even by itself, my recent trip to Japan had a very special meaning to me. But there were also several crucial objectives planned way beforehand to be ticked off from the bucket list – some were related to cuisine, others to culture, history, nature or entertainment. However, one of the places I visited had also spiritual significance of sorts. While the stopover there lasted maybe 20 minutes, it was a very emotional moment, and it left a powerful impression on me. Located relatively close to Shibuya Station, I paid a visit to a memorial plate of Yutaka Ozaki, late rebellious singer of the 1980s, whose music and charisma actually hugely contributed to my interest in Japan, and he was among the main reasons for my travel there. 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 →

Making sushi for the first time

ootoroLiving in Poland has its perks (kielbasa, breathtaking landscapes, castles, the Winged Hussars), yet unfortunately getting to taste authentic sushi is not one of them. Obviously I haven’t visited every sushi restaurant in the country, been only to few that offer the dish in reasonable price range, but I imagine that what they offer is only a weak, overpriced imitation of the real thing. I’m planning to travel to Japan in 2017 and I’ll definitely eat as much sushi, ramen and other foods that come into my sight as it’s humanly possible (even one step beyond). For now I’m doing what I can and so I decided to make my own sushi. Continue reading →

Nihon music and I

Morita Douji

I first became interested in Japanese music around 8 years ago – I believe it was my freshman year in high school. One day I decided to re-watch Dragon Ball saga, which I used to often catch on TV back when I was a kid. Then I discovered ‘anime’, watched few of these cartoons, kind of liked several songs (not to mention anime themselves), and in the end I decided to look up some Japanese rock music. Continue reading →