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Reader Response 1: Suggestions

Well, as people like to say, I have loved to hear from all of those who have had the misfortune of stumbling upon my portion of JYA. My response to some of your comments, questions and suggestions are long overdue. I have gotten advice from a Philadelphian who had lived in Japan, notes from internet-surfing college students and plenty of posts from people finding JYA in their own way. Some call for more interaction. Shall I respond to some now?

Someone wanted to hear a bit more about Japanese, the language. Is it hard to learn? Well, it is, of course, a non-western language, with its own alphabet, so, in a word, yes. Of course, I am hardly much of a Japanese speaker, but I find the subject interesting anyway. Interestingly, my experience is that Japanese people love to gloat that their language is difficult to learn. And, while some argue the Japanese tend to overstate their language’s complexities, they are largely correct. See, yes, there are the alphabets of Hiragana, used primarily, and Katakana, which is only for words that came from other languages, like ‘computer,’ and, some 3,300 kanji symbols that are in daily-use. But, many clamor about the strict grammar of the language. While, new English speakers can throw out verbs and nouns and meaning can be found, this kind of comprehension is harder to be had in Japanese. All that being said, it is important to once again remind you that I cannot speak the language, so this is all second hand information. What I can tell you is that I know a few useful phrases and a few words that I am regularly called. Those titles I have been given that I thought would be fun to share with you now.

Daigakusei – (die-GOCK-say) university student
Gakusei – (GOCK-say) student
Gaijin – (guy-JIN) foreigner/outsider
Hakujin – (HOCK-jin) white person

Someone told me to get to know the people. Oh, the fun that this has been. This is generally my strongest asset in travel: I am not afraid to talk to strangers. The very reality that I managed to survive getting lost on Fuji (my third episode), throughout Tokyo (my second episode) and, well, almost daily is in complete thanks to those Japanese with whom I have been forced to communicate. Moreover, I do this regularly, without need. In fact, last night I met a young man and was drawn into a conversation about North Korea and its nuclear weapons program. Suddenly, he was escorting me to his friend’s home, where a party was in full swing. I was there until 3am, all of us discussing politics, religion and the global mission of my American home. There is no more important part of travel than involvement in the locals, whether it is a neighboring town or a faraway continent. Thanks for the advice.

Someone wanted to see more Temples. Well, my next episode will have a splash of traditional Japanese images, but a later segment that focuses on my trip to Kyoto will show almost nothing but temples, stay posted! In the meantime, check out the photos in my Kyoto Album.

Someone recommended that I see Akihabara. Well, I most certainly followed this piece of advice. For those of you who don’t know, Akihabara might be the technological capital of the world, if Japan is to be considered the world’s leading country in electronic goods. The place to be is Denki Gai, Electric Town, and the sight is an amazing one (See Akihabara Photo Album). The crowds are puzzling and I had never seen more gaijin in Japan than in Deki Gai. The place is like a wet dream for every computer nerd and video gamer that comes to Japan and, looking around, there are plenty. There is no place on this planet with more electronics of every order, all in tall buildings competing for sunlight with signs that read Sega, Sony, Casio and so many more. While, Shinagawa-ku is home to the headquarters of Sony, Seio, Toshiba and many others, Akihabara is chock full of stores, making it more interesting to consumers. Thanks for the suggestion!

I’d love to hear more from all of you. Either post on my blog or send an email, I want to hear from you!

Jaa mata,

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