Opinion: The Japan I know

Disclaimer: Japan does annoy me at times (like so many other countries I have visited) but it is the richness of language and of culture that I adore- anime and manga not so much.

Whenever you speak to someone who has visited Japan, they will always speak about the mass of people, the numerous shops and the hive of activity that is ever present, but this is a stark contract to the Japan I know and love.

While most major cities are congested and claustrophobic- with buildings, business, people and marketing everywhere (just think downtown Akihabara, Shubuya, Nagoya, Osaka etc), true Japan is off the beaten track and away from tourists.

Iga is a perfect example, ignoring 2 weeks a year. There are many cultural and historical sites in this small city, a strong historical tradition (of Ninjas) and a distinct identity. Nabari is similar in feeling being so close to Iga- there is the same ethos, same identity.

While there are these aspects in the major cities, they’re harder to find. In Tokyo, Asakusa feels more distinct than Shibuya and in Nagoya, Osu feels like a completely different world to downtown Nagoya. That is what a lot of major cities are missing: an identity.

When looking at Nabari, most (even myself at times) see it as a commuter town- one where people love to work in other places but even that statement is overly harsh. Nabari has thriving industries- agriculture and manufacturing- schools, hospitals, business centres; while it may feel like there is nothing there at times- it’s the countryside. What is there is needed and nothing more.

One statement I have heard many Japanese people say is “if you dropped me in a random city, without my phone, I would not know where I am”. For some cities this is harsh. Sapporo, for example, has been based upon an American grid layout- you could be at 北8東8and due to the city design it feels distinct. But if you were dropped in a housing estate in 日進市- Nisshin City (outside Nagoya), you could not tell me what part of Aichi (never mind Japan) you were in.

While identity is important for so many cities around the world, for Japan (at times) this seems overlooked and possible an afterthought. Some cities have areas that are special, but they have much larger areas that are forgettable. I hope by reading my journeys around Japan, I can combat this, even if just a bit.

What are your views on this post? Agree or disagree?

Thank you for reading and happy exploring.


Living a language

Exploring a language living abroad

Welcome to my blog dedicated to global languages and experiencing language. Languages are fluid and dynamic, they are adaptable to change either through cultural uptake or need of the language community.

This blog should allow you to experience different cultures through photos and images and allow you to see more of the global community. There will be tips for language learning and recommendations for continued learning.

Just one more quick note, please enjoy this blog as much as I will enjoy writing it. It was be research heavy at times and a bit too light at others, anecdotal, and convoluted but please enjoy, nevertheless.

Thank you and happy language learning.


Welcome to exploring languages

I have started the blog to allow myself and, more importantly, you to explore the worlds of languages and see how diverse the world is.

Why do this?

  • A lot of resources are wrapped in their native languages and the ‘unpacking’ needed is done automatically by speakers of that languages
  • language and language learning is such an integral part of the global community- a culture cannot be kept in isolation

There will be more to come and there will be different topics at times. But, I hope that you enjoy your journey of language discovery.

Some topics that I will cover will include specific language resources I have found useful and I hope you find them useful too.

Like living languages, this blog will grow, change, and develop and I hope that you enjoy reading in a month or in a years’ time.

Lastly, this blog may be Japanese heavy at times as I do live in Japan, for now at least.

Happy reading and welcome to the world of languages

Languages in use. Iga-ueno castle (and a hint for next time)
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