In the third grade, we spent a whole semester learning about Japan. In order to immerse us culturally, my teacher brought in Japanese exchange student who taught us how to make origami. They dazzled the class with the birds and various animals of the forest, which could be designed without the snips of a scissor. At the time I didn’t appreciate the kitsch behind origami. I was the kid in class, who just could not master the traditional paper Japanese art form.
I made a paper plane (easy way out) and called it origami. The class laughed. While our Japanese exchange students displayed a great deal of patience. At the end of the day, I didn’t master origami. However, It was my first big exposure to Japan. After origami, we learned about Nippon’s cultural life and contributions. At the end of our studies, we celebrated our journey into Nippon via text books by eating egg rolls, since sushi and Saki (we were also not twenty one) were not part of the cafeteria food scene.
Taking a last look at my textbook revealed Mt. Fugi with a rising sun it left a curious feeling. That semester was I would spend years daydreaming about Japan.. One night, Bryan and Yuki called from Japan. They wanted me to come visit. Although, I was on a budget at the time, I took the plunge anyways.
The trip in Tokyo and I was instantly mesmerized by everything. The loudness, the quirky fashion of Harajuku, Kyoto, the bullet trains, the temples, the colorful metro, food and spending time with wonderful friends gave me a collage of beautiful memories. After my first trip, I developed full wonder lust for Japan all over again, even after my passport was stamped.
Years later I would return. My visit was focused entirely on Tokyo. However something funny happened while roaming the streets of the Japanese capital. It started feeling like home. I had my favorite pastries shop at the Ginza metro stop. The route from Shibuya to Harajuku counted as the ideal place to take one of my famous power walks, since it had gorgeous window displays featuring street and high fashion. Also, I could maneuver the subway with familiarity like New York.
These days, I still love to immerse myself in Japanese culture. Origami is an art form I long to learn. I would love to fill my next apartment with cute origami creations made with bright colors. Like Japan, I plan on keeping life kitschy, interesting and exotic.