Over this summer I had the opportunity to go to Japan. While there I was able to study the drawing techniques used in manga, Japanese comic books that contain a unique drawing style. Also while there I was able to learn about the history of manga drawing and observe the culture of Japan which has a strong influence in manga drawing.
Not only did I learn about drawing while on this trip but about the Japanese culture. Before going to Japan I thought that it would be a huge culture shock and it would be completely different then everything I had ever know but while there I found many similarities to American culture. I also came to understand that I can’t always just rely on myself and technology. Finally I gained a bit of trust in humanity as a whole, it is so easy to watch the news and assume that there are a lot of bad people in the world but after this trip I have gained a bit of faith in strangers.
One incident that really stands out regarding similarities within cultures was I saw a few guys on the train fooling around just like any unsupervised American teen would. Just from my experience from reading manga I was expecting everyone on the train to be on their phones or reading not laughing loudly and sitting on each other. I found that after a few of these experiences I began to think that even with different upbringings and social norms people are intrinsically similar. Once getting back to the States when meeting people from other countries I would immediately start looking for the unique characteristics in the person whether than seeing if I could find any influences of from where they come from.
Another thing I took away from my trip was the realization that sometimes you just have to ask for help. I am at my core a very independent person and I will always try to do everything by myself. Before coming to Japan I planned out everything I was going to do and how to get there but once I started to try to get places I quickly realized I am useless when it comes to get from point A to point B. Even with the use of technology I was constantly getting lost but was fortunate enough to find English speakers who would help me find where I was going. At first it was very hard to swallow my pride but I soon found that people were very kind and understanding.
The biggest thing I took away from my experience was I became a little less jaded. I like most people my age am on the Internet so I am constantly faced with the atrocities people commit against each other which has made me less inclined to believe in the good in people. While in Japan I was fortunate to see and experience a lot of kindness. On one of the last days I was in Japan a friend I had met up with and I were stopped by an elderly man just so he could give us a piece of candy. It was a very small action but at the time it made my friend and I so happy that someone who didn’t know us would do something to try to brighten our day.
My journey to Japan was full of experiences that will have a lasting effect on me. After going to Japan I have made it a goal to travel abroad again and get a chance to learn about different countries and their cultures. It has also inspired me to focus on East Asian business moving forward in my career as I greatly enjoyed my experiences with the unique Japanese culture. In addition, I will apply the techniques I learned to improve my drawings as those are what tend to keep me sane during stressful times. I am happy for a chance to become a better artist and I am very grateful to have had a chance to visit Japan and will carry aspects of this trip for years to come.