I've returned safe and sound from Japan... with lots of photos and lots of potential subjects for blog posts! I had some of my stereotypes about Japan confirmed (yes, the Japanese love T-shirts with bizarre English phrases on them) and others completely demolished (no, not all Japanese schoolchildren are preternaturally quiet and studious--they can be much rowdier than Americans!). I was startled to realize how many of my notions about Japan derived from Memoirs of a Geisha and Lost in Translation--two works I encountered when I was an impressionable high-schooler. And both, of course, Westerners' interpretations of Japan.
To try to counteract that, I brought several Japanese novels on this trip--but I didn't end up reading any of them! I was so busy soaking in the atmosphere, and writing so much in my journal, that the only things I read were several back-issues of The New Yorker.
No use letting perfectly good books go unread, though, so I will be reading my Japanese novels, and, hopefully, blogging about them--even though I'm back in America now.
I also planned to listen to Japan-themed musicals and operas on my iPod--Pacific Overtures and Madame Butterfly. (I thought I would try to make a habit of listening to musicals in the country where they take place. Two years ago I listened to The Light in the Piazza in Florence and Sunday in the Park with George on La Grande Jatte.) But this plan also fell by the wayside. Perhaps it's because I am not really familiar with either of those shows and had to download the music right before I went on the trip--whereas, when I listened to Piazza and Sunday in foreign countries, they were already among my favorite musicals.
I did, however, fire up my iPod as my bus pulled out of central Kobe on its way to the airport, and listened to "Just Like Honey" on repeat...
Because some old habits die hard.