First impressions of Katharina Riederer
As 9th scholarship holder of Grünwald foundation, I fell myself as part of a wonderful German-Japanese tradition. Prior to my stay at the Okamoto family I took a Japanese course at ETH Zurich, where I am currently studying mechanical engineering. This course didn’t only give me a linguistic but also a cultural introduction into a fascinating country. Furthermore the narrations of the previous scholarship holders triggered a literally great appetite to gain my own experiences in Osaka and it’s surroundings.
After a few days I was already integrated into the Japanese everyday life, thanks to the thoughtful care of Mr. Okamoto. Even the dinner of my 22th birthday, which we spent at a Sukiyaki meal with the family of the nephew of Mr. Okamoto, felt like a dinner with my own family.
After the introduction by Mr. Okamoto and his wife into different Japanese societies, a variety of food traditions and last but not least the public transport I imagined myself to be ready to explore the Kansai surrounding on my own. However, these intentions failed by the first try when I wanted to go for a walk with the dog of the Okamoto family. After having locked myself in the garden, I called Mrs. Okamoto. As my Japanese pronunciation was still bad, she understood that there was a fire in the house. So she came back home very quickly and was happy to see that everything was all right.
Nevertheless, I held on to my courage and started my Japanese exploration tour. During trips to Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and of course Osaka-City I noticed some specialties. I want to focus here on a particular place in Japan, as all of my impressions would go beyond the scope. This place is known as dirty and not well organized in western countries. Railway and subway stations! From a Japanese point of view this place is an important element of the every day life. It does not only offer a cooling during hot summer days but also a bright shopping experience. Besides the smell of pastries also the elaborated guidance sweetens the stay in the underground. This guidance includes lining up at the predicted stop of the train’s doors and declared walking directions at long hallways and stairs.
The present plumb blossom already predicts the worldwide known cherry blossom of Japan. In my next report I will tell you about the ceremony during this wonderful cherry blossom. Furthermore I am especially looking forward to introduce my father and my sister into the Japanese lifestyle during the next few days.