Upon arriving in Japan, I had yet to understand the immense journey that I had undertaken. While I was pretty sure that my limited knowledge about Japan ( after all, I only knew about sushi and kimonos) would leave me reeling from culture shock, my initial assumptions were only the tip of the iceberg. After fifteen hours of flight, the initial bouts of nervousness hit me as the airplane's wheels skipped upon the runway of Kansai International Airport. When I first walked to Kansai Gaidai's campus, I took notice of the surrounding buildings; I was impressed by the architecture and the wonderful craftsmanship that was apparent in every work of art that I gazed upon. From the Japanese-style homes, to the vending machines and pachinko parlors, I thought everything was so fun and modern. Yet, the heir that I observed within the Japanese spirit, while not contradictory of the surroundings, was representative a moral code I have only seen in the Old Country, or that one could have observed decades ago within Western societies.
Few days later, I had the opportunity to visit the club house where I watched a Judo practice for the first time. After taking some pictures of the players I understood the great importance of the role the martial arts play in this country. I hope that my first look into this very different and exciting world of Japanese martial arts can be one of many springboards that I can in order to learn more about the mystery that is Japan.
I will never forget the first visit to my home visit partner, Ami, where I cooked takoyaki, Japanese pancakes and ice cream. I also wore a Kimono for the first time in my life and I received one as a gift. Moreover, visiting her family gave me a better understanding of Japanese society and culture.