My oh my what a wonderful place Tokyo has been so far. Every day I wake up to the sound of my host mother cooking breakfast and my two host siblings getting ready to go to their respective school or care center. The sun is already pretty bright at around 6:30am here, which is right when I prefer to wake up, making my mornings as vibrant as possible. My neighbors are out cleaning up their porches or maintaining their plants by around 7:30, and I leave to school about an hour later at 8:30 most days. The 25 minute commute to class is mostly walking with a 6 minute train ride in between. It’s just the right time for an overall commute that allows me to pump myself up for another day with whatever type of music I have blasting in my headphones. However, I’ve recently begun walking with no music in my ears, because I realized that I was missing a huge piece of my commute every morning…that being the sights and sounds of Japan!
When my headphones are in, I’m focused. I walk directly where I need to go with no deviation, and the only thing I hear is the blasting beat I choose on my iPod. However, taking my headphones out completely changes the way my mind works. Being aware of the sounds that are around me draw my eyes to places that I haven’t seen, yet I pass every day. It pulls my body in directions that I haven’t previously been. It allows my curiosity to provide me with new knowledge about where I am, and it has made me happier than ever that I am in Japan.
When people think of Tokyo, they may just think of tall buildings, lots of people, and the feeling of concrete under your feet. While such things may be the predominant visual experiences that most people have, some may still be blind to the subtle beauty of the combination of every element that Tokyo has to offer. The cleanliness, the mass of (generally) well-mannered and determined people, the impressive design and craftsmanship that constantly surrounds the people of Tokyo, it’s almost absurd to think that the city is real. I am impressed by new things, and things I already know about, every single day. And, in a deep breath out of amazement that I seem to have every morning, I get a feeling of accomplishment. The feeling that I’ve made my life into something solely because I’m here, participating in a society that prides itself on how it functions as a whole. If anything, I’d recommend coming to Japan solely to walk around aimlessly and go wherever the most interesting sounds are. It’s worked for me so far, and I will certainly continue doing so!
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Hi all! My name is Ben Krieger, and I am a rising Junior at Miami University in Oxford, OH. I grew up in the Cleveland area as an aspiring professional football player, but clearly that is a path that I've abandoned because I'll be in Japan during my first season away from the game in fourteen years! I'm very excited to be in Tokyo for the fall, and I've been preparing to be able to at least survive in Tokyo by studying Japanese for the first time ever in Beppu, Japan this summer. I may not be great yet, but hopefully you'll watch me grow as I blog my way through the fall program!