After many further adventures with the Shinkansen, a number of new friendships, and more culinary highlights, I am puzzled to realize that my three years in Japan are already approaching the end. Soon, I unfortunately need to leave this beautiful Japanese home in Osaka.
During the past few weeks, I was again able to travel throughout the country and explore Japan from many new and different angles. Starting in the south-west, I visited places such as Hiroshima, Itsukishima, Matsuyama, Takamatsu, Kurashiki, Koyasan, Ise, Kyoto, towards northern areas such as Tokyo, Kamakura, Nikko and Hakone. This allowed me to see a huge variety of traditional, historic places, spiritual monasteries and temples, mystical and fascinating ceder forests, versatile museum exhibitions (ranging from traditional Japanese to modern Western and contemporary digital art), and experience the busy crowds rushing through the streets of Tokyo.
Besides all exciting trave experiences, the last months also showed me again how hospitable, caring and kind the Japanese mentality is. The many invitations to dinners, day trips, and bars have been a great pleasure to me and allowed me to feel at home in Japan despite the short time being here. Thank you very much!
Last week, once again I realized thecloseness and sincere friendship to Japanese friends during the afterhours of the earthquake on June 18th. I was not only impressed by the professional and level-headed, almost routinized way of how the Japanese were dealing with the earthquake, but also touched by the many personal helpful messages I received from Japanese friends, asking about my well-being only seconds after the shock.
Without any doubt, Japan is a country full of curiosities and pecularities. After three unique and versatile months, I was was able to gain insights into the country’s history, language, culture and get to know the country and its people better. At the same time, I could realize that many stereotypes are not entirely true and that in fact, there are many similarities between Japan and Germany. I also learned about many Japanese customs and pecularities that should serve as example for Germany and the Western world too.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Mr. and Ms. Okamoto for their outstanding hospitality and their inspiring motivation and committment and time to give young students like me the chance to gain these unique insights through the Grünwald scholarship. Their motivation and drive to foster intercultural exchange and bilateral understanding between Japan and Germany is one of a kind and will certainly be a guiding priciple for me for my entire life.