Prelude to My Japan Trip


It’s been a week since I came back from Japan.  I was actually planning to write about my impressions of the country from the moment my plane touched down in Narita Airport.  But for some reason, there seems to be a time vacuum in Japan.  The twelve days I spent there seemed shorter than three days.  But I’m getting ahead of the story, let me first tell you about the start of my love affair with the country.

I don’t exactly remember when it started but maybe it was sometime during my grade school years.  My uncle had a subscription to Time magazine. That’s where I first read about Japanese pop culture – the quirky fashion sense of the youth in Shibuya.  Pretty soon, just reading the write ups about Japan didn’t satisfy me.  I started reading anything I could find about Japan, whether from books, encyclopedias or any other material.  I even watched tv shows or movies I could find, although there weren’t much.

When my parents went on a trip to Hong Kong, my request was for them to get me a Walkman.  I also bought books about the Japanese language and started practicing how to write Hiragana and Katakana characters.  My siblings and my cousins started calling me Ms. Japan because of this.  I probably would be able to write a reasonable number of kanji if I hadn’t been crazy busy when I entered high school.

In the university, my crazy schedule continued.  I was working and studying at the same time.  For a while, I forgot about my interest in Japan, though it was always there.  Little did I know that this month, I would be able to experience what I only previously read about.
It wasn’t easy preparing for the trip, esp. for my friend who acted as the guarantor.  The embassy asked for so many documents – the family register, tax certificate, bank account, etc.  By the time they had everything, I’m pretty sure they knew my guarantor’s life story. 😀
One thing I love about the Japanese government, though, is that they’re very fair, even to people from developing countries.  When we apply for a tourist visa for the US, we could provide more than what the embassy is asking but still get denied a visa even after just a minute or two of being interviewed by the consul.  The Japanese embassy asks for so many documents.  But once they received everything, it only took about a day or two for them to give the visa.
This is where the story begins…