Friday, January 3, 2014

Last Night in California

One of the interesting things about returning to America and meeting new people is having many opportunities to answer the question, "So what is it like to live in Japan?"  I find myself reflecting not only on differences between America and Japan but also on the different Americas that I know, comparing and contrasting  aspects of one culture to different parts of another.  There are so many little patches that comprise these cultures.  Some seem to lie directly on top of the others, others seem in stark contrast.  Some are the same, but expressed in such different ways that they seem completely foreign.

How do people in a culture reflect a sense of community?  How do they express a need for one another and a giving to one another?  In some cultures each person gives a lot to those around them and receives a lot.  There is an implicit trust and reliance on the people in their circle and there is an incentive to take care of that circle and make it as large as possible.  And maybe in other ways of living there is more independence, more self-reliance.  Both can give freedom and inflict restriction.

Tomorrow I return to Japan, a culture known for its sense of community.  And yet I can't imagine a more tightly knit culture than the one in which I've been living.  It will be interesting to once again become an outsider, to be self-reliant in a tightly knit world.  It's been wonderful to experience this other world, a mix of many things familiar, and yet uniquely its own.  

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