An Unspoken Language

I am trilinguist and I can understand few other languages from India. My initial thought before going to Japan was that people would be speaking a little bit English and I would be able to survive there on my own. However, I found myself helpless at many times as most people I met could not speak much or any English. The country has been modernized and is very advanced structurally; however, I felt that the universal language English need to be progressed in Japan. I am not sure if expansion of learning English would hurt language sustainability in any ways!!

DSC01131None the less, I feel that speaking without understanding is better. There were some high school students who we met on the train could not communicate directly with us; because of not having a common language. However, we all were really happy after meeting with them and trying a fail effort to talk to them.






   An adorable lady working at the gift store


One of the most memorable experience I had was shopping at the gift shop. All the sellers were really nice and welcoming. I had very unique experience of understanding and communicating with what I call ‘an unspoken language.’ I spent almost two hours talking to them and looking around, we had a very good time and I think they all loved me.



This gave me confident that I would be able to survive very well in Japan even by myself. As, a the last day three girls in our group including myself had a success navigating and using train by ourselves.






Homey Feeling in a Foreign Country

As an immigrant in the United States from India, I have had many experiences of culture shock and continue to have them. I was a ‘double foreigner’ in this new country called Japan; I was fortunate enough to have this opportunity due to a grant given from the Japan Foundation and a collaborative effort of professor Armstrong and professor Takahashi. Before going to this trip, I had a very clear image of how the culture in Japan would be. Although the real situation of Japan economy did not resemble the image in my mind, the image in mind of the culture in Japan turned out to be reality in many aspects. While I was in Japan, I felt that the Japanese culture is very close to the Indian culture.

DSCN0869 My first morning in Japan started with very delicious ginger tea, which made my day    and reminded me of chai from India. Eventually, the wending machines were like a gift from heaven to me.  They were very convenient as you are able to get hot drinks and cold drinks from the same machine including beer cans. I believe the invention of these machines must be for efficiency reason and to sustain the cultural test in today’s fast running Japan.


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Then we had another great cultural experience in the evening when we went to this very homey restaurant run by a very friendly couple. They both made really decent home-style food and even offered us  free soup. We were very delighted with the food and the hospitality from the couple. That is what I call traditional Japanese hospitality which I have missed at times after leaving India. I also enjoyed drinking soup through the bowl; because I am more used to of not using utensils to eat. Then, the real challenge came when I had to use the chopsticks for every meal. Using chopsticks is a very interesting tradition in Japan but I believe this tradition must be very old and started before the invention off utensils to eat. This truly is cultural sustainability.


It seemed like that modern westernized clothing took place of the traditional Japanese clothing among the majority of Japanese people. In a huge crowd of Japanese, even in temples, it was hard to find people wearing traditional clothing. It was hard to find a place where you can buy the traditional clothing in reasonable price. This was very different than the situation in India; the traditional Indian cloths are very easy to find anywhere in India. However, the Japanese traditional clothing pattern has not been influence by the modern designs, unlike to Indian designs.