Today, after a three year hiatus, this teacher finally returned to the classroom as a student. After so many years of sitting through so many classes – it is only now that I understand how to take responsibility for my own learning. And now I’m finally going to buckle down and focus on something I’ve wanted to do for a while.
I did a headcount of all the MEN I need to buy chocolates for for Valentine’s Day. Yes, you read right. In Japan, it is women who buy chocolates for men. And no – these chocolates aren’t just for your significant other. People also buy them for colleagues and friends.
If you live and work Japan, it’s pretty much expected that you bring back souvenirs for your colleagues, friends and family. It’s a custom that utterly confused me when I first came here. Unlike other countries, souvenirs here are a small food item that’s beautifully and individually wrapped. Don’t you dare present it in a brown paper bag. Yes – the wrapping matters. A lot.
We should respect our elders not because they need us now that they’re old. But because we need them because we’re young. Without them we have no map, no clue, no idea. Whilst we may talk about the economic realities of an ageing population – not much attention is given to how big a contribution the elderly actually make to society.
You’ve ‘checked-in’ to all the places on the tourist trail. Now you’re wondering what to do next. I’m not particularly tech-savvy so I do things the old-fashioned way. I ask around. Here’s what the locals recommended.
Whenever I get homesick, a quick visit to Yokohama Chinatown is all it takes for me to feel slightly placated. Back in 1859, Yokohama was one of the first Japanese ports that opened up to foreign trade. Chinatown quickly developed to accommodate the many Chinese traders who settled down in this city. Of course, that was a long time ago and these days there are more businesses than actual people living here.
Japan’s ageing population is always spoken about with a certain sense of doom. I don’t think it should be that way. The senior citizens have all the knowledge, all the experience, and all the time in the world to mentor the younger generations. We should be tapping into that wisdom and all that it can offer.