My first experience in Japan was in Ishikawa, Komatsu – a small town tucked in the western side of the main island of Honshu.
Away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, I fell in love with the true Japan.
A week in Shimane reminded me of the first few feelings that I felt landing at Komatsu airport.
Such feelings were excitement, joy, a fear of the unknown and the feeling of being stuck in Inaka Japan.
To a country boy that was raised outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti and turned city boy due to living in New York and Boston, Komatsu came in with mixed feelings and so did Shimane.
However, surrounded by nature and open fields, Shimane brought upon me time to reflect.
Moments of serendipity that are rare when boggled down by a crazy schedule and fast-paced cities like Boston, New York and Tokyo.
Since the summer of the year 2011 to now the summer of the year 2015, in the timespan of these 5 summers, I’ve traveled to Japan more than 10 times, completed multiple internships, studied abroad, worked as a consultant at multiple companies culminating to me being now a member of 67th JASC. I could not think of any other way to end my college career and mark the beginning of my life as a Shakaijin in Japan.
Nonetheless, the never ending sea of rice fields and rows of mountains forced me to ponder upon the original reason why I decided to learn Japanese.
The reason actually stems from my time living in Haiti.
The Haitian market is dominated by Japanese goods. From Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Isuzu and more, Japanese cars made made up an overwhelming amount of the vehicles on the street.
The television predominantly showed Japanese shows such as Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z and such all translated into French or English. Onigiri were redrawn to be burgers, names were changed and made to have an American or French flair to mask the Japanese influence.
Once I realized the Japanese influence that was hidden in the shadows, I was astonished to see how a country so far has such an influence on a small country like Haiti. This officially launched me on a quest to learn more about Japan and how it became a leading soft power player in the world.
Never did it occurred to me that I would be coming to Shimane, the land of the gods and cradle of many of Japan’s cultural influences.
In the silent and moon-bathed nights of Shimane, I was able to remember and likewise reflect on the original mission that I had in mind when I decided to learn more about Japan.