日本で新しい最初 – New Beginnings in Japan

It should be obvious that this past week brought forth a slew of new beginnings in my life. The beginning of the 14 hour flight from New York to Tokyo, and the beginning of the jet lag that followed. The beginning of my new cell phone plan, apartment lease, and job contract, as I settle into my new home in Kiryu. The beginning of new relationships with my coworkers and newfound friends in my town, as well as the beginning of a new era in my friendship with my native Japanese friends from Geneseo. In the most succinct way possible, this week marked the beginning of a new life for me.

The American bank accounts have been closed, the car sold, and the goodbyes said, replaced with Japanese bank accounts, a bike, and new hellos. I am truly beginning this new life, and only now has it begun to set it, six days after arriving in Tokyo, and four after coming to Kiryu.

As I write this, there is a festival whose own beginning shall come at the arrival of dusk, and I will soon be partaking in the festivities to take in new experiences. I feel this event shall play a major part in the differentiation of my life in Japan from my life in America. Festivals exist in each country, but Japanese matsuri are a much different beast from the American carnival or festival. Over here, festivals exist for everything from the blooming of sakura trees in spring, to the celebration of the new year, and even the casting out of the demons in February; while we may have similar ideas behind American holidays such as Halloween and Easter, these Japanese styles of celebration emphasize the roles of spirituality and tradition in a more overt fashion than the undertones …continue reading