Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Navigating my Ways through Unfamiliar Spaces and a Crowd of Gazing Faces (A Marvelous Adventure)

After being in Japan for nearly a month; I feel as though I’ve barely explored my area at all. That’s not to say that I haven’t been trying, but it seems that it’s more difficult to actually reach the city when you’re attending AIU. Going into the city aside, it seems that despite my multiple efforts to familiarize myself with my surroundings, there are so many places that I don’t know exist.

Mapping my way.
Perhaps that’s a good thing? The less I know, the more room I have to discover and learn, especially since I’ll be staying here for an entire year, and with such a time frame, I’m positive that I’ll be able to learn how to navigate my way through the unfamiliar spaces. In fact, I think I’ve begun to gain the slightest of senses of the area, specifically the campus and the route to the tennis courts that are open for the Tennis Club’s practices. Although…I’m clearly still attempting to remember where all of my classrooms are; seeing as I confuse which side of the hall my Japanese class is on consistently. As for the tennis courts, well, there aren’t many things to distract me on the way to the courts, making the way much easier to remember, for me at least.

In addition to the campus and the tennis courts, I’ve found a space that many people don’t know exists, all because of my pre-modern Japanese history class. And what better way to learn about history than to visit an archaeological dig where small societies lived in relative peace during the early Yayoi period! 
Various archaeological sites in Akita.
Despite the fact that I find it challenging to explore because of my hyper-visibility; I’ve made friends that are willing to leave campus with me to help me navigate my way through the unfamiliar spaces and the crowd of gazing faces that fill them, which fill me with a mixture of apprehension, guilt for making my friends even more visible when they are able to blend in rather well when I’m not with them, pride in my appearance and heritage(s), and something else I’m not quite sure what it is yet. In spite of these emotions that I’ve been experiencing, I was able to discover new areas that were previously unknown to me after leaving the Aeon Mall for the first time recently. 

Playground panda striking a pose.
One of said areas included a pre-school and more importantly, the playground that is adjacent to it. Luckily, when my friends and I found it, there were no children for me to scare.~

While playgrounds are nice, even when you’re far too large for them, the most important place that I found was a lovely little coffee shop endearingly named: Café de Coco. 

Café de Coco
Once inside this tiny shop, a feeling of warmth spread over me, which was more than welcome because it’s starting to become chilly here already…While we could only stay at the café for about fifteen minutes because we needed to catch the next bus to school, the brief encounter I had with it filled me with a sense of longing to return for a variety of reasons, one of which is the reminder that I can find my way around, even if it takes me longer than other people, and that there’s nothing wrong with others having an easier time finding their way. 
Drinking coffee to assuage my vampiric cravings.


Sarah said...

I love that you said that 'there is nothing wrong with others having an easier time finding their way' because I have often felt like I'm exploring at a slower and more cautious pace than other people. I have a friend who went to Taiwan for 2 days and here I am still trying to figure out where to buy a T-shirt for the local volleyball team (Panasonic Panthers).
But when I explore I feel like it is very rewarding so I agree, I don't think there is anything wrong with others having an easier time. As long as you enjoy what you do.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that the English name of the coffee shop is so very different from the Japanese name. Which one comes closer to the actual customer experience?

Jeremy Sullivan said...

I would say that the Japanese name came closer to the experience that I had, despite the rush that I was in. With all of the references to the ocean and sailing, the English name was just a means for me to remember the location easier.