Living in the northern part of Japan, which is called Hokkaido prefecture, the most frequently asked question for you is “Do you live in Sapporo?”. Holy crap. Hokkaido is the biggest in Japan out of 47 prefectures. Therefore, Hokkaido has the land as large as three ordinary prefectures. Sapporo is recognized as the capital of Hokkaido, but it doesn’t mean everyone from Hokkaido lives near around Hokkaido. Like me, I live in a very country side of Hokkaido and it takes about 5 hours drive to access Sapporo (30 min. flying from the nearest airport).
So, everyone asks me about Sapporo but actually, I don’t know much about Sapporo. I was once very surprised that some of my Tokyoite friends had never been to some very Tokyo symbolic places. I said “Why you don’t go there? So many TV shows featured the spot!” Then he or she just says, “I don’t know but it seems very crowded and am too lazy to go there” or like that. Now I can understand them if I think about Sapporo.
The reason why I’m writing about Sapporo tonight is because I came to Sapporo with my family as a winter holiday trip (and to celebrate my mother’s happy retirement, which should have done in 2021). People are wearing masks as my living place, but there are simply more people, more diverse people there. Every shop staffs seems more polite and kind compared with my neighbor shops, tastes of restaurant or stands are felt sophisticated. So, every time I came to this kind of urban area, I could feel a bit updated. You can see a lot of things different from your ordinary days. Take a look at curry rice for example. Do you see which is urban curry rice?
You see? The latter one is Sapporo’s. Even my way of taking photographs seems so sophisticated. These are the very symbolic photos which shows the difference between urban and country so clearly. You know? The difference is such an apparent.
But I don’t care which you prefer or not. I love both of curry, and I feel we are living in the age of hybrid, meaning you don’t have to choose just one side, but you should enjoy both and respect each other’s good sides. Hybrid is not just about Prius but us.
Hello everyone. “What is your favorite thing?” is a typical Japanese English textbook question. What is your favorite sports, movies, novels… you can create many series of this type of this questions. Anyway, we often talk about our favorite things or things we love. Some people can talk about their favorite things with enthusiasm. They really talk a lot even though I don’t have any interests on the topic. However, their faces when they are talking about their favorite things are really looked fulfilled and cool. During such time, I often think of myself who doesn’t have any specific favorite thing. If I were asked “What do you like?”, I would say “I like fresh clean air in countryside, and rice”. I cannot tell somebody why I love those things or how much money I have been investing to get such things.
Somebody loves collecting things. But I don’t. When I finish reading manga of “Damon Slayer”, I was so touched, but that doesn’t make me to keep owing volumes. I just keep the memories in my mind, and I sold them on Internet flea market site. It got really high price though, some of my friends who love the series said to me “You are so disgraceful”. I want to live simple life. I would rather collect precious memories in my heart instead of keeping stuffs. Things in your heart never be robbed or rusted.
So, I have never belonged to some artist’s fan sites, or bought fan goods on anybody. I have never collected complete edition of something. I know how I’m spending boring daily life. Maybe that’s why I got depressed easily somehow. But, I think it is ok. I want to love such abstract things. I love travel especially for foreign countries. I love reading books. I love listening good music. I love writing stupid stuff. I love to meet new people. I love talking with my friends over the phone. I love to know new things or new world. Now I realize, I have many favorite things. Now I am so happy that I can live with my favorite things.
Traveling around the world is a dream everyone dreamt once in a life, and I am still dreaming about it every single day. If I had enough money, if I had enough time, if the coronavirus passed away, … Every such boring excuses hinder you not to try (especially these days for me). We do know such excuses are not a real excuse, and we do know it’s totally depends on our seriousness to achieve that goal. Today, I’d like to give you an inspiration by sharing a story with you. A story about a girl in Cambodia.
One-a-day, I was walking and wondering if I could travel abroad with my precious friends someday in my college days. I wanted to travel to the U.S. , Russia, England, Germany, or everywhere except Japan. Japan seems nice country though, we are pretty much boring living in Japan. On one level, Japanese looks pretty neat, but on another level, it is just boring, peer pressured, stupid obscene anime characters everywhere, super aging society to me (some younger generation).
Then, one of my university friend talked me in a classroom, “Tomoharu, are you interested in traveling abroad during this coming Spring vacation with me?”, then I was getting excited and said “Wow. Really? It’s such an honer to be asked. Sure! But, where are we going?” Then he said “I’m wondering Vietnam or Cambodia, such rising, energetic country I want to travel as a backpacker!”. Backpacker was a dazzling word for such nobody college students in my days (maybe still?). Then I totally accepted his request. And lastly, we invited two girls taking a same lecture with us were going to Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore for 2 weeks as a backpacker.
We tried hard to have a precious and rare experiences in there, so we somehow applied visiting to an elementary school in Cambodia through a Japanese NGO. I remember the day clear like yesterday. There were about 100 students at the school, and to them, most surprisingly, the first foreigner for them was us. Therefore we were so nervous for being their first foreigners. They were actually really cute and they have the most dazzling smiles I have ever seen. Then I though like, wow, any media tell Cambodia as a very poor and surviving and unhappy country though, they ARE actually very happy to me.
We attended a class, and a woman introduced us as a Japanese. Children welcomed really hard by singing their welcome song, and we tried to sing a very famous song to return for their gratitudes.
After a while, the woman gave us a chance to ask anything to the students. I was very excited to know a thing, so I asked “What do you want now?” before about 40 students. Then, almost everyone in the classroom raise their hands and tried to be chosen as an answerer. So, I chose a girl just in front of me with smile, and I said, “What do you want now?” with my smiling. Then she said something not in English, and then the woman translated to us and said “It’s knowledge”.
I got goosebumps by listening the answer. I was totally shocked and felt defeated, because I was thinking their answers would be “toys” or “money” or something like that. But the girl, who seems just 6 or 7 years old, said without hesitation but with clear eyes, she said “Knowledge” to us. I really, really felt bad at the time because I realized how stupid I am. I live in Japan and can study at elementary school to university as normal thing, and have never experienced war or famine or serious lack of basic knowledge. Library or schools seems pretty natural existence and I felt even boring for it. But for her, it was not natural.
Then I thought I have been wrong. Everyone seems that they easily throw dreams away very easily even they are really rich in getting opportunity these days in Japan. The situation surrounding the children are really sever (they don’t have enough books and teachers to study), nevertheless, every student before me at that time had specific dreams like to be a doctor, teacher or scholar or etc. Then I asked to myself, what the heck am I doing with anger. I strongly thought, if I can’t find and achieve my dream with blessed environments, who can do that? The role of me at that time should be telling how great to have dreams and achieve it. But then I couldn’t.
After coming back to Japan, every-time I feel fear for dream or becoming lazy to achieve a goal, I try to remember the girl with so clear eyes. And not only me, you can do something to change tomorrow. Let’s throw excuses away, and have a clear eyes to the future like her.
Thank you very much for reading. Traveling is learning.