Japan’s Japan

In a little less than 6 hours, I’ll be on a plane heading to Japan… my very first trip to Japan.  It’s one of those countries that’s on everyone’s list of Top 10 places to see before dying.  What is it that’s so appealing about this country?  I’ve come to believe that that’s what I’m about to discover.  To immerse oneself into any world is to do away with the textbooks and the anecdotes and make way for experience–the true teacher.

I’d be lying, however, if I didn’t say that before the sushi and the Hiragana, much of my exposure to Japan began many years ago through Japan’s sub-culture of anime, manga and all things geeky.  In fact, I’m fairly confident that a vast majority of non-Japanese (mainly Westerners), when first exposed to anime and video games, associate those mediums with Japanese people and culture.  It’s easy to draw that bridge when you beat that Super Nintendo game and the credits scroll with an endless list of Yoshis and Fujimotos.  It gets more intense as geeks attend ComicCons and anime conventions, events accepting of the cosplayer’s ways.

And therein lies my question:  how removed is the anime, manga and gaming sub-culture from Japanese culture?  Or, are they one in the same?

For better or for worse, my default lens is one of the sub-culture, but on my trip to Japan, that lens is being removed.  Sure, I want to see Akihabara, and see if I can uncover why so many geeks seem to equate Japan as the geek mecca of the world.  But I also plan on seeing Kyoto and viewing Japan as it was.  I want to walk upon a Buddhist temple or earth garden and learn the philosophies that made this country.  I’ll be walking along the Imperial Palace, and I plan to lose myself completely in this new world.

There are so many non-Japanese people who speak so passionately about Japan as if the country were their own.  I wonder what the Japanese people say of their culture, even without actually speaking.  As much of a geek as I am, I don’t plan on experiencing the geek’s Japan during this trip.  I want to experience Japan’s Japan.

Stay tuned for pictures and more blogs.  Follow me on Instagram @jokway

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