Going to Japan was a whirlwind of excitement and marvel that left me falling in a torrent of wonderful sensations and experiences. The feeling of it was similar to falling in a rabbit hole; I was unprepared for its impact and found myself in a strange yet fascinating world that spoke in a different language, had different practices, and was surrounded by unique people. Nevertheless, I immersed myself in the experience and did my best to abide to their customs. As the famous saying goes, “In Rome, do as the Romans do” or in this case, do as the Japanese do.  Although my stay there was short-lived, I was able to pick up on some important values that the Japanese revered and that I wish to share to others.

1. Kirei

The first value, and one which the Japanese particularly hold in high regard, is the importance of beauty and of being clean.  In Japan, the word “Kirei” is used very often and means beautiful or clean. For the Japanese, being clean in itself is considered beautiful.  Being organized, keeping your area tidy, and even being pure of heart are traits that are widely upheld in the country. Although I tend to be a laidback sort of person, I learned to put more effort in keeping myself neat including my surroundings.  It actually helped me a lot because compared to before when I would just scatter my things in a room, I learned to arrange my stuff in a particular order and had an easier time remembering where I placed certain items.

2. Shizuka

The second value that I picked up on was the value of being quiet. During my stay, I observed that many people in Japan were soft-spoken and quiet. Seldom did they speak and most of them would use non-verbal cues like nodding or waving a hand. Personally, it was calming to be in a quiet and peaceful environment. It gave me time to hear myself think, to ponder on even the littlest of things and it helped me reflect. I was also reminded that it is not the length or the weight of our words that ultimately define us but rather our actions.

3. Kenkyona

Despite learning the value of being clean and of being quiet, I felt that it was the value of being humble or “kenkyona” that became the highlight of the JLCP. In Japan, I learned the importance of giving respect to other people especially to those who were older than you or had a higher status. Most importantly though, I was able to experience the feeling of being completely and utterly clueless when I first arrived. I had a hard time understanding the language and I was a stranger to the Japanese customs. Regardless, it made me reach the epiphany that there is still a lot of things I don’t know and that’s why I shouldn’t stop learning.

All in all, my experience in the JLCP was no less than amazing. I was able to venture to a new world and embrace the unknown. Although I’m back home right now, the values that I have learned and the moments that I have experienced in Japan will never be forgotten.

Japan Language and Culture Program or JLCP is a program under the Institutional Partnerships and Programs Office (IPPO). To know more about JCLP, go towww.mc.edu.ph/AboutMC/InstitutionalPartnershipsandLinkages/JLCP

Gianina Concha R. Limbo

Gianina is a BS Psychology student who enjoys traveling and reading books.

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