Japan is a riddle, wrapped in mystery, inside an enigma.

“I did not understand it. I did not understand the language, the Japanese characters or the way the Japanese people behaved. I especially did not understand the “Hello Kitty” signs for roadside work, or why they added raw eggs to a crazy delicious piece of meat. Japan is simply incomprehensible. You cannot understand how cool a season and experience it was to travel around the Land of the Rising Sun.

”Konnichiwa”=Hi, ”Arigatogosaimas”=Thanks and ”Kanpai”=cheers. From the left: Line, Louise and Malou (me).

We met the small friendly people of Japan in the plane. And wow, they all looked alike and are just as sweet and willing to help as the other, even though they don’t speak english! I worked at Niseko Base Snowsports, an international ski school, in Niseko and didn’t encounter a lot of Japanese. But when we ventured over to Kutchan to go shopping Japanese was unavoidable, everything except expensive international goods were written in Japanese. Shopping took forever if you didn’t ask for help. If you asked for help though, the Japanese were so willing and ran around the entire store to find what you specifically asked for!

On Christmas Eve we made Christmas cakes and  attempted to keep danish traditions despite being on the other side of the world. The Japanese didn’t stress like we did and some even went to the closest KFC for dinner. They make a bigger effort celebrating New Years Eve and Chinese New Year. Another thing that they celebrate are the sakura flowers. The Sakura Festivals take place when the beautiful flowers start blossoming. And this is extremely beautiful! People of all age groups picnic undet the trees with the pink flowers above them, a tradition called “Hanami”. Some are even dressed in traditional Japanese clothing. A lot of pictures are taken wearing the finest kimono’s and special Japanese socks in sandals.

Another remarkable thing about Japan is their huge shrines and temples, which are everywhere! In short, there are two different religions in Japan, one worships shrines and one worships temples. And you find shrines and temples pretty much everywhere! They are in the middle of the road, at the end of the pist or even at the peak of the mountain.

After a walk up to 223 m through the orange shrines ”Fushimi Inari Shrines” we found a vending machine with canned coffee (to our left). These canned beverages are a fantastic Japanese specialty! They are available both warm and cold and are located in the weirdest places, just like the shrines.

It takes time but you learn to differentiate between the Japanese. There are many and they look alike in the metro of Tokyo. A lot of them wear black, grey and white suites, which doesn’t help either. Some are unique by being more “Kawaii” (cute) than others. I had a difficult time understanding the term “Kawaii” up until we were called “Kawaii” and were taken pictures of. The word started making sense 🙂

Here’s the traditional photographing position. From the left; Dad, Niels, Louise, Line, Malou (Me) and Mom.

And yes, all the other prejudices and ideas of an insane amount of people, crazy good sushi, immaculately groomed gardens, cat cafés, streets full of light, big playrooms, lightning fast on time public transport, geisha, and an incredibly polite peopl who always say thank you — all these cultural cliches can be confirmed! Still, Japan is much more than you think. I’m so glad and grateful that my ski instructor background got me so far away from home. And I have never skied better snow anywhere else in the world!


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Malou Nielsen

 Malou Nielsen October 27, 2017

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