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Hello. I'm Sean and I live in Japan. I'm glad you've come because I need you to do something for me.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Japanese Live Here

The last time I spoke with my family, my Dad asked me a very simple question:  What is the most striking difference between Japan and home?  Now it might have been the residual jet lag, or the fact that I was trying to absorb and process every cultural difference all at once, but the long and short of it is that I came up blank.

It feels like it should be an easy question.  Japan finds itself on the forefront of new technology and design; it has a long and rich cultural background that weaves itself into every facet of its society; and exhibits a social group dynamic that is quite different than that of North America.  With all this is mind, it may sound weird when I say that the answer is none of these; instead it is the most simple and common sense thing that I find the most striking difference from Canada.  Japan is home to the Japanese.

Take a walk through the Yorkdale Mall in Toronto on a weekend and tell me what makes someone a Canadian.  What one thing, what one common physical trait makes someone easily identifiable as a Canadian citizen?  Canada has such a rich blend of ethnicity, that to try and pick a background or an identity to bind us as a Nation is virtually impossible.  There is a pride in our country, a mutual satisfaction in calling it our home, but where we come from and why we live the lives we do could not be more diverse.

I don't want this to sound like I'm surprised to find Japanese people in Japan.  I'm not an idiot, and I knew what to expect.  I am aware that Japan has had a history of being exclusionary and pesky to foreigners, just ask amnesty international.  Yet think of how much I stand out here, and then drop a Japanese man in Union Station and ask yourself who turns their head.

I hope I don't give off the impression of complaining, as I simply meant this more as an observation than anything else.  If Canada is a mosaic of all sorts of cultural threads, then Japan is a tapestry of a much more singular origin.  Yet as I have spent increasing amounts of time observing and watching people, I have come to realize that to be Japanese is to be apart of a look just as diverse as any other people on the planet.  From diversity they achieve unity.  I love it.

I've really enjoyed my time here so far, and am starting to feel comfortable with my more immediate surroundings.  Moving around the world is, I assume, never easy, and I don't believe it is weird for me to miss my family, friends and fuzzy dogs considerably.  Yet, in the grand scheme of things, my transition to Japan probably could not have gone any smoother.  Within the past couple days I have started to return to my apartment with a feeling of home, and that comforts me.

Day three of training starts tomorrow, and just as the first two days tended to be more administrative in nature, the following days should be more hands on and demonstrative.  Everyone I have met from the company has proven to be rather upbeat and positive in the way they go about their job, and more importantly in the way they talk about ECC as an employer.

Wish me luck in the days ahead,

Love you family!    

Thanks for reading,


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