Living in Japan is easy for me because modern Japan is quite westernized. There are so many western-related things that I do here. I eat hamburgers, go to Starbucks Coffee, wear western clothing, speak English (with my students at at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi and with my wife), watch American movies in English at western-style movie theaters that sell western-type food and drinks, watch the news in English on TV on BBC World News and CNN, shop at western-style malls, swim and weight train at a sports club, etc. I have gotten so used to westernized Japan that it’s sometimes hard to believe that I’m actually in Japan! Where is old Japanese culture, which was around long before western culture was introduced to Japan? I don’t have to look long for it because it eventually appears right in front of my eyes, surprising me and delighting me!
An example of this is when I go out somewhere, surrounded by westernized Japan, then suddenly come across a Japanese woman wearing a kimono, traditional clothing that all Japanese people wore for over 1,000 years before the introduction of western clothing to Japan. In a moment, I am thrown back through time spanning over 1,000 years! Wow! These days kimono are usually only worn for special occasions such as Japanese weddings and Coming of Age Day, however there are also some people who wear them other times too. I love colorful types of kimono worn by women. The colors and patterns are lovely.
Another fine example of old Japanese culture in modern-day Japan is Rokkakudo Temple in Kyoto, which is surrounded by modern high-rise buildings and condominiums as you can see in a post earlier written by Martin from Smith’s School of English Kotoen by clicking here. What a sight! This temple is famous not only for being the birthplace of the original flower arranging school (called Ikenobo), but also for being a religious pilgrimage mecca in traditional Japan.
Seeing such things reminds me that this is still Japan. Western culture may have greatly influenced Japanese culture, but old Japan still remains very much present in modern-day Japan. This mix of the old and the new makes Japan a very interesting place to live.
Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi