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Tarun Kukreja: Student Report from 2019 Alternative Fall Break to Japan

Samurai statue.

Samurai statue

Japan has always been a country that garners my fascination. From its ancient civilizations to its futuristic technology, so many aspects of this country have captivated me. When I was young, I would always act like I was a ninja running around with my friends, and I’d frequently try to copy a cool karate move I saw in a movie or television show. So many of my favorite shows were from Japan, but I had no idea at the time. My absolute favorite thing in the world was a Japanese movie monster called Godzilla. I do not remember when it happened, but at some point this consumption of Japanese media hit critical mass and ever since has spiraled out of control seeking more things Japanese.

After some introspection, I would have to say the thing that draws me to it is this blend of traditional culture with modern, no futuristic style. It is the fact that despite being one of the most technologically-advanced nations on Earth, Japan still has so much of its ancient traditions. The fact that there are so many shops and craftsmen dedicated to traditional styles, yet the areas in which they are located can have such a modern feel, is surreal to me. No matter how times change and what new technology appears, the traditions and customs of Japanese culture will always remain. I got to see this in full display on this trip, as all throughout the city of Okazaki there were shops dedicated to selling traditional items such as clothing, cutlery, fabric, and pottery just to name a few. This reverence for culture extended further than just that of Japanese, as one Chinese restaurant we went to made sure to make the whole experience in line with Chinese culture. It’s this thought that despite constantly looking forward, Japan always makes sure to look back as well and it would have to be this aspect that I love the most about Japan.

Examples of Furoshiki fabric.

Furoshiki fabric

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