Travel Log 14 – Global Connections and Rites of Reincorporation by Ryan Flagg, Tokyo, Japan

In many ways, the idea of Japan and “Japaneseness,” along with “Japonism,” is one large global connection. Everything from art, anime and other forms of popular culture all have western influences and motivations. From my Visual Media course, we’ve been talking about how Japan both influences the international world, and vice-versa. Popular culture, like Pokemon, for example, is a direct product of the government and Japan trying to appeal to a global audience in order to increase both tourism and boost their economy. This sort of understanding of the different mediums of art created here isn’t really looked at in depth through a western audience like in Europe and America. Even for me, as someone who loves to consume Japanese animation and video games, I’ve come to be aware of the fact that this is consumption is precisely what the Japanese markets intend for success internationally and for travel into the country itself. Especially when you take a look at post-WWII, where all of this really began. Japan needed a way to reinvigorate culture and the economy, and they found the best way to do this was to sell all of these ideas from a media convergence mindset to a western audience, plus bringing western ideas into Japan. For example, Disney is a massive cultural phenomenon here, much like Pokemon, and more recently, Yokai Watch. Although it’s interesting to point out that while Yokai Watch is incredibly successful in Japan, the show and games have yet to take off in the US. Pokemon on the other hand is absolutely a global phenomenon. I’m sure most of you are playing the recently released Pokemon GO game on your phones. The franchise took over the world in the ‘90’s, and has done so again (despite it not being available in Japan right now). I believe that what Slimbach says in the proposed quote for this travel log is entirely true when you look at what Japan does in order to allow a connection between the country itself and the world around it. It isn’t just video games and anime though; it also has to do with the food, business world, fashion and everything someone from outside associates with Japan. Although I haven’t travelled to many places in the world, I’d like to think that this is common with other countries. These connections and influences are what draws us all to travel and for us Quinnipiac students, to study abroad. Firing off of that, I haven’t taken a single film class here. Filmmaking is ultimately my career choice, but the classes, lessons and insights I’ve learned here have made me appreciate becoming a global citizen. One part of the entire experience of studying abroad, I think, is to truly understand global connections and use these going forward in whichever direction we choose, be it career-wise, emotionally, critically when we travel, etc. I’m able to now take what I’ve learned through the connections I’ve made and apply those to my work in school, in my career, and in the future. I could teach my future children the lessons I’ve learned, which allows global connections to reach beyond the span of five months to a more generational education.

I’ve made a lot of friends here during my time studying abroad. I’ve made friends with Japanese people as well as those who are in my program, who are from all walks of life all around the world like China, South America, and of course the US. I’m not really into the big “send-off-event” type things. A simple low-key thank you and goodbye always works. Some of the people I’ve met who live in Japan certainly live further away from others, but with technology like Facebook, Instagram and LINE (a messaging app we all use here), I’m connected with these people in a way that wouldn’t have been possible ten or twenty years ago. In that, I won’t really be saying goodbye; I can still contact people with ease and we can all equally be aware of what we’re doing around the world. In terms of my “goodbye plan,” I’ll probably be going out to dinner with some friends next weekend before I take off. I will also want to take one last walk around some of my favorite places, such as Matsudo and the backstreets of Harajuku (which are ridiculously awesome for cool, artsy murals and shops).

I’m definitely ready and excited to return home in two weeks. I’ve been here for a long time, and I’m missing my friends, family and American food (OH GOD CHIPOTLE AND PIZZA.). In bringing a meaningful closure to this experience, I’m not really sure what I could do. I’ve already been to where I wanted to go, like Kyoto and Hiroshima, and I don’t have time to visit further places like Okinawa in the south or Hokkaido in the far north. I can absolutely see myself returning here though for a solid week or two, either surfing in Okinawa or skiing up in Hokkaido. In terms of reincorporation, I think I’ll do just fine. Granted, the first week being back will totally be a reverse culture shock. I’ll mostly just accept that for what it is, and since I’ve lived longer in the US than in Japan during the span of my life, I really don’t think the transition will be any earth-shattering explosion of emotions.

For a quote in this weeks log, I’d like to use a famous one from JRR Tolkien: “Not all those who wander are lost.” I think this encapsulates our discussions of global connections and our experiences in other countries. For although we are each individual and have different things to do in our lives in wandering this earth, we all share a common human connection that spans countries and ages of everyone.

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One thought on “Travel Log 14 – Global Connections and Rites of Reincorporation by Ryan Flagg, Tokyo, Japan

  1. Hey Ryan I couldn’t tell you how excited I was to eat chipotle on my return back to America. It was my first meal back and I loved every moment of it. Reverse culture shock is a thing and sometimes you won’t even notice when it happens. I remember I was going to buy two sodas at a gas station and remember America taxes and has a bottle deposit on everything. I was so confused, but just laughed and took it for what it is. Don’t worry your old habits will come back in due time.

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