Furusato or why I always wanted to go to Japan

Five centimeters per second – that’s the speed of cherry blossoms until they fall to earth, and also the name of one of the most beautiful and romantic anime from Japan. When you ask people if they ever want to travel to Japan, there are usually only two extremes: Either they have little or no interest in the country, or they DESPERATELY WANT to go to the Land of the Rising Sun since their earliest childhood!

I have always been one of those people who would love to live in Japan. Maybe because it was only through Japan that I knew how long cherry blossoms take to reach the earth, and maybe because in Japanese there are untranslatable words that describe whole emotions, states and situations. Maybe because people in Tokyo are lining up at a little snack stand because they know the chef is going to retire soon and they’re thanking him this way.

The only thing to blame was the TV

If I had to write down all the reasons why I wanted to go to Japan, I could list them to the moon and I’m sure I’d always come up with something new. The first time I came into contact with Japan was shortly after my family and I emigrated to Germany. The only thing to blame was the TV. At that time, the anime “A Super Trio” was running there, as well as a few other animated films, but I didn’t even know at the time that they had been produced in Japan. Even as a child, I was impressed by the idea of three beautiful power women in high heels fighting for justice.

Later I watched many more anime and wanted nothing more than to live in those fantastic worlds myself. The message that women could be both stunningly beautiful and incredibly strong, intelligent, funny and emancipated definitely resonated with me. As a child, it was clear to me: I want to be like that! Therefore, my interest in Japan only grew.

From anime and manga to Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto

I quickly noticed that I was personally attracted above all to the unusual. The magical, inexplicable and mystical, which I could already feel so much as a small child and yet not yet classify. In any case, the small German villages in which I lived over the years could not satisfy my hunger for the strange and unusual. Although I tried, I never really felt like I belonged. I was too drawn to the unusual. And it was as if the unusual was haunting me. As if the books, movies and manga were choosing me and not the other way around.

Each story seemed to reach me at the right time, in the right place. Increasingly, I wondered what it was about this country that produced such creative and fantastic works. What had started with anime and manga gradually became bigger and bigger. As a teenager, I became increasingly interested in Japanese literature and started reading Haruki Murakami’s and Banana Yoshimoto’s novels. Sinking into her books felt as warm as coming home. A piece of home in a foreign land. Furusato. So contradictory that it made sense again.

Known strangers

A foreign country, despite thousands of miles, seemed so much closer and more familiar than the country we had emigrated to. And at the latest then it was clear to me: I definitely want to go to Japan! To this country where artists live who are so incredibly talented. I wanted to know what inspires her works in this country, where this deep poetic melancholy comes from, which I myself have felt so often, and to get to know this completely different way of looking at everyday life, to feel it on the spot: I wanted to ride the subway there, taste the delicious food, get lost in Tokyo, smell the scent after the rain, walk by the sea, see the sky and wonder if the cherry blossoms were really as unreal beautiful as they were always portrayed. But the years passed and, as so often in life, I said to myself, “Someday…” There would already be a new one next year. Perhaps the time also had a reason.

To the cherry blossom in Japan: A childhood dream came true

Over the years, I traveled a lot and found that I had many more interests than I first thought. I visited countries that surprised and changed me. I had seen dolphins and whales in the wild, danced to rock music in Vietnam, and driven through landscapes where I encountered more reindeer than people. The longing for Japan was still there but not as strong. But the child in me was once again louder. It still wanted to go to the land of its dreams. So, without further ado, I decided that I would definitely travel to Japan in 2018. And not just at any random time, but at the best travel time of the cherry blossom. However, I only made this firm decision after a few glasses of champagne and lots of confetti on New Year’s Eve. One too many bangs, pearly laughter and my childhood dream, had simply convinced me.

There were just a few hurdles: I hardly had time to plan and organize extensively. On top of that, I didn’t actually start the actual planning until February. But how I ended up in Japan, even though I did a lot of things differently than recommended, and experienced all seasons, you can read in my next blogpost. Last minute to Japan: Is it possible? Until then, I hope you enjoy my gallery of untranslatable words from Japan. What is your favorite word?