Sunday, June 5, 2011

Where do I want to go?

I think for me, Japan is the single country I need to visit before I die.  I'm fifth generation American of Japanese ancestry, so it has always been weird living such an American life, but being boxed in to my ancestral homeland.

For the longest time I denied my ethnic heritage, mainly because as a kid, who wants to be different?  It sucks when people mispronounce the food you eat or your name (it's phonetic!), but I took me a long time to embrace the generations-removed ethnic mark left upon me.

Part of what has shaped my identity was the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  Really studying the history and the socio-political roots of the tragedy (and finding out that my grandparents and family were all interned) has definitely shaped my identity as distinctly American of Japanese Ancestry - I'm not Japanese at all, I'm very American, yet my ancestors all came from Japan at one point.

For a long time I also tried to distance myself from Japanese culture, just because I always viewed myself as more American than Japanese.  I basically tried to avoid anime and manga, and would only pull out my knowledge of Japanese culture or history or mythology if it was convenient.

But after a long while, I realized that most people are going to see me as Japanese before American, and until we become a more globalized culture, nothing is going to change that.  So, I've decided not to reject things that I might like just because they're Japanese, and have found an incredible love of anime and manga and J-dramas and also super cute stickers.  Damn those stickers.

Anyway, thus, I want to go to Japan to finally come to terms with this ancestral homeland of mine and I think it'll help me continue on my path to fully understanding myself and the way people perceive me.

In terms of getting there, to make sure that I make it I've got to start to travel fund.  Maybe a dollar a month or so (while I'm broke) and then I'll scale it up as the bare necessities (food, shelter, art supplies) gets taken care of more and more.  Not the most revolutionary plan, but one I can tackle.

Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?
(Author: Chris Guillebeau)

No comments: