On Saturday June 10th I embarked on the journey of a lifetime. This was the start to my 2 month adventure in Japan, interning for the Shiro Oni Studio in the town of Onishi located in the Gunma Prefecture. I had thankfully learned some cultural knowledge and a few important phrases in a crash course before I left, but other than that, I had no means of communicating if the other person did not know English. What a terrifying thought.
Never before had I experienced what it’s like to be muted, to not even understand conversation around me. But I didn’t need to know the language to recognize that I had never met more kind, giving and polite people as the Japanese.
As soon as I landed I was helped by people who either tried their best to give me the information I needed or directed me to someone who could.
Right away, the information desk at the airport figured out the correct train line, departure time and exact length of the trip ( precisely 1 hour and 21 minutes) it would take to get me safely and directly to my hotel in Tokyo.
The train ride was nerve wrecking, only because I feared missing my stop as a result of the language barrier. But like the lady at information told me and with the affirmation of some other ladies exiting the train, exactly 1 hour and 21 minutes later I had made it to Ueno Station.
Once I exited the train I asked the ticket desk how to get the my hotel, once again, although he knew very little English he was eager to help. This man also dug through his trash bin for me once I said I needed to keep my ticket stub for my records!
Alright, I could rant more about my experiences with kind and helpful people here but I think you get the point.
Back to Day 1 in Japan:
So miraculously I made it to Kinuya Hotel where I met my internship partner Chase Bandolik, who had already been in Japan for a week and had a feel for the country.
That night I got a feel for Tokyo and the modern city culture it offered. We walked down market street, randomly chose a restaurant where we ate pork that made our tongues tingle (I later found out this might’ve been Taiwanese food) and walked past many Game rooms and vending machines.
Tokyo is just an incredible city with so much to do. One night there was definitely not enough and I can’t wait to explore more on my time off. However, the country side is breath taking. The town of Onishi is quiet and peaceful and very few people know English since we are far out of Tokyo, however, they are even more friendly and gracious towards people. I cannot wait to help with improvement in the marketing of the art residency program here so more people than just me, Chase and the current artists get to hear about this wonderful town and cultural immersion experience it provides.
Look out for my next post to hear more about my time in Onishi.