Eye Opening Experiences in My Own Backyard
Trip Start Jul 27, 2006
93Trip End Ongoing
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I had a riot! And I learned a lot about Kobe. I visited temples, shrines, parks, lakes, rivers, stadiums, shopping streets, sought out fault lines, got free rides from strangers AND managed to take loads of pictures. But more importantly, I met many people and spoke Japanese for nearly two days straight. It was a great experience for me. The places in the book were all over my ward (Japan's system of breaking down areas- kind of similar to townships in the States) and I hadn't the slightest clue how to get to most of them, so I had to stop for directions- a lot
I had a number of interesting experiences but would just like to share a couple.
Mystery man in the park:
At one point I approached Oike Lake where I was suppose to take pictures of a park. There were no signs locating the park, but I was pretty sure I was at the only lake in the area. So I walked up to an elderly man who was busy painting a picture of the beautiful scenery. In Japanese I asked him, "is this Oike Lake?" and he told me yes. As I was walking away he said, in perfect English, "Are you Brianne?" My mouth dropped. Here I am prancing around in a park no where near my home or school, scantly clad to work on my tan, and someone recognizes me?? He must have seen the shock in my face, because he went on to tell me his name. It didn't ring a bell until he took off his hat. Turns out, he's the substitute professor who comes to critique the young art teacher who just came to my school this year. He only comes once or twice a week, and we've never been introduced to each other- but I have seen his face 2 or 3 times. The fact that he knew my name, could speak English, and just happened to be painting a picture of the same lake that I was suppose to be photographing was eerily coincidental
Boy on the bus:
After a discouraging day out to the middle of nowhere to find fault lines that no one seemed to know even existed, I was heat stricken, and still feeling the effects of the virus that I picked up in India. I boarded a bus back to the station, and quickly became lost in my own thoughts as I stared out the window. I was thinking about the people who helped me out that day, or the people who purposely avoided me. I zoned in on people in general, and couldn't help but think that even though the world is small- people are NOT actually all the same at heart. I knew it was a bad thought to think, but honestly- people in different countries have different priorities, different thought processes, and different concerns. Part of me began to think that Japanese people (this is me thinking negatively AND over-generalizing here, my apologies) can be a bit heartless at times.
As I am thinking this an elderly man gets on the bus. I'm sitting in the back seat, three seats in, and cannot possibly offer him my seat without disturbing the rest of the passengers. There is a high school boy sitting next to me, and his mother is on the outside
At this point I'm wondering what is wrong with this student that he didn't let his mom take his seat, or at least offer to hold the groceries. My negative attitude is not yet gone and I'm seeing the worst of this situation, not the better. He opens his bag and pulls out some form of sugar in a box. I watch him nonchalantly pop one in his mouth amidst all of us sardines packed into the back row. At this point I'm thinking mean thoughts, 'yeah, you just eat that sugar, you lazy little...' and at that moment he turns to me and offers me a piece of candy. I am dumbfounded. Not only do people never offer up their seats, but they never EVER share food with strangers. I could not believe my luck. I took the candy, not because I wanted to eat it, but because I didn't want to disappoint the boy who was breaking out of the norm to speak to the foreigner sitting next to him. I thanked him, and commented on how delicious the candy tasted. I tried to name the flavor, and mistakenly said buta instead of budo- although a single letter difference in Japanese, it changes the meaning from grape to pig
I couldn't help but smile at how quickly a small series of events changed my outlook for the day. After my encounters on the bus, I was no longer thinking about my dehydration, my stomachache, or the fact that I had ridden 6 different trains and 2 different buses in the last 4 hours. Instead, I was thinking about the adorable little town of Murayama that I happened upon in the mountains. Turns out there are beautiful, quaint little areas of Japan existing right here in Kobe. I thought about the yummy popsicle, with actual chunks of grapes inside it that I had found to quench my thirst. But mostly I thought about how God is always looking out for us. He saw how my happy go lucky mood for the day had taken a turn for the worst. He realized, before I did, that I was no longer appreciating all the good things that had happened over the day and was instead stuck in a rut, assuming the worst. He knew this wasn't my style, and that it would be a shame to let such a great day go to waste. So he helped me out~ working through the people closest to me to bring me back on track.