As a teacher at Aeon, I`ve been asked many questions by students, not only about English, but about myself as well. One of the most common questions students ask is why I decided to come to Japan. That question is difficult to answer in one or two sentences. There were a lot of factors that led to me deciding to move to Japan, but I don`t want to bore you with all the details. Instead I want to talk about the value of new experiences.
For most of my life I lived in the same town and my life experience was mostly limited to what I could do there. To be fair, I come from a fairly large and diverse place, so I was exposed to different types of people and cultures growing up. But still, after I graduated college I felt like I needed to get out of Texas, to go somewhere new and different. So I came to Japan.
From the day I arrived in Tokyo, everything was indeed new and different to me. The money, the language, the food, the mannerisms were different from what I`d known. It was overwhelming, exhilarating, and fascinating. I`ll never forget my first visit to a Japanese Supermarket the night after I arrived in Japan. I was jetlagged and hungry when I wandered into a local store in search of something to eat. What was supposed to be a short trip turned into a hours long exploration of the aisles. I wandered through the store, gazing in wonder and confusion at all the new dishes and ingredients. Soba is what I finally settled on for dinner, and at the time that seemed very new and exciting.
I feel very lucky to have been able to live in Japan and to experience so many things that are part of everyday life in this country. Riding on the bullet train, eating onigiri and singing karaoke have all been things I have experienced for the first time in Japan, and I have come to appreciate the importance of trying new things because of living in Japan. Before trying something new, whether it was eating red bean dango or playing a shinkansen, I always felt nervous beforehand and immensely grateful for the experience afterwards.
It was with this in mind that I decided to visit an Onsen for the first time. For many foreign people, visiting an Onsen is pretty intimidating. Though we have many public and private swimming pools in America, public baths are nonexistent. So when I first came to Japan I had no interest in visiting an Onsen at all. At the time it just seemed too strange and exotic, Onsens were something I could observe and appreciate from afar, but never imagined I would participate in myself.
However as time went on and I got to know more people, I had more and more conversations about going to Onsen. Slowly I become more comfortable with the idea of going to an Onsen myself. So a couple months ago, when my friend brought up the idea of going to an Onsen, I decided to go with her.
This month I went to an Akiu Onsen, and it was an amazing experience. It was really nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of Sendai, and to see the fall leaves and mountains. The Onsen and the hotel were both beautiful, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere and scenery.
Not only did I visit an Onsen for the first time this month, but I was also able to experience a few other things for the first time as well. Since coming to Japan, I`ve wanted to try wearing a yukata, but there never seemed to be a good time to do so. However at the Onsen I was able to wear a yukata for the day. To my surprise it was pretty comfortable and not too difficult the put on.
While at the onsen I was also able to try many new foods. The lunch they served us that included Shabu Shabu, flowers, and a variety of sushi, none of which I had tried before. Every thing was very good, but the Shabu Shabu was probably my favorite of the bunch. It was both delicious and fun to cook.
All in all, going to an Onsen was an awesome experience, and one I would never have been had I not lived in Japan. Being exposed to so many new foods, ideas, and activities has made me a much more well-rounded and happy person. I`m so grateful for all the new things I`ve been able to try while living in Japan, and I look forward to trying even more in the future.
So how about you? Do you like to try new things? What new things do you want try in the future?