I have never been to Japan.
I know, I bet you have not been there either. However, there is a reason why that sentence is so important: I am half Japanese and have never been to the country that half of my body, my soul, my literal blood belongs to. Going to Japan is almost like a milestone in my family – if you go, you are a true member of the family. And as of April 10th, I am officially going to Japan this summer from August 17th to September 3rd.
My heart is literally bursting as I type this. However, the premise of this piece is to not just gush about how excited I am, it is to really encompass what this trip means in the face of my future.
Since I’m entering my junior year at Emerson in the fall and my college years are just quickly wrapping up, a lot of students may share the sentiment that I feel: that I have not done enough. I want to test the waters at Emerson – maybe join new orgs or take up an E-Board position for one of the three orgs I have been anpart of the last two years. I think I need to have an internship in the fall just to make sure I have some sort of professional experience aside from the jobs I have now.
For the most part, the next period of my college life is starting and it is staring directly in my face. What really stands out to me is the fact that by going to Japan, I will be accomplishing something I have always wanted. I will get to see my grandparents for the first time in over fifteen years, I will see my buff cousin who used to be half the size of me and will see almost every landmark my immediate family has raved about throughout my whole life. This trip gives me a frame of mind that the reason why it has taken me so long to go to Japan is connected to something bigger than me – it has something to do with the path that I am meant to take and a journey that I do not know the full, entire details of.
On a side note, the reason why I have never gone to Japan is due to 3 main factors:
- Money – when I was younger, it was incredibly expensive to fly to Japan based on airfare prices. Between the ages of five and fifteen, my mom had only visited her family about two times. This meant that even if I had expressed interest in going, I would not be able to go as we simply only had enough for one person.
- My mom claims that I said “I was not interested” or that “I did not want to go” which, by the way, is completely false. She thinks that because I was so excited to do a European exchange program in college, I would not be as excited to get the opportunity to visit Japan and see my family.
- In reality, the reason why I have never made it across the Pacific is due to the fact that everyone thinks I will be an annoying traveler after some pretty horrific experiences in domestic trips. The main example would be my graduation present: a trip to Manhattan and I wore these really, really cute brown Steve Madden gladiator sandals which ended up actually destroying my feet for the rest of the trip and led to lots of arguments.
Although those points were pretty valid in the past, I have always wanted to travel to Japan – it is something that is so close to my heart. I believe that by going to Japan I will enter my junior year with a lot of clarity and a fresh set of responsibilities along with a little bit of jet-lag. And this year, I will be able to pick out my own good luck charm. In my family, whoever goes to Japan one year will bring home a good luck charm, otherwise known as an omamori, from a shrine or temple to bring each member of the family a certain charm for the year.
Loosely, omamori means means amulet (as a form of protection) or talisman (as a provider of luck), and the kanji at the heart of the word means “to guide or protect.” These charms are meant to be put on or in your phone, purse, wallet, home wall, pocket, or the like. And when the year is over or when the charm’s purpose is fulfilled, you return the charm to the same temple to be burned in a sacred fire.
I have received a luck charm for the past two years: one for academic success and the other for financial success. During my time at Emerson, I have gotten the highest G.P.A I have ever seen myself accomplish and I work full-time on-campus. With that said, I am a firm believer that the charms were an instrumental part of the challenges I have faced, successes I have made, and the friendships I have been blessed with at Emerson.
Now that I am going to Japan for the first time, I am excited to get a good luck charm that is based on what I want to accomplish during the rest of my time at Emerson and to just be able to say that I have been to Japan. It’s like my life is coming full-circle again after the craziness of the last two years.