If you’re into Japanese culture and love Japan, then there’s nothing like traveling to the country and experiencing it first-hand. If you can’t afford the tourist price tag, or if teaching English to pay your way doesn’t appeal, then you don’t need to drown your sorrows binge watching anime — Japan is closer than you might think. Step through the door of your local Japanese embassy and you’re as good as there.
Japan in your Country
The Embassies of Japan vary from country to country, but they all have a vested interest in promoting Japan, in the local language. Your closest embassy probably has a library of information and brochures, and you might be able to snag some free magazines in Japanese and English (or another local language). Besides reading material, embassies will help you get connected to Japanese instructors or schools, martial arts dojos, and Japanese culture clubs, such as ikebana (flower arranging) and tea ceremony. Of course, it’ll depend on what’s available in your area.
Local embassies are tasked with run events to promote Japan, which can be well worth attending. Our local embassy is running a Japan Cultural Expo this Friday through Sunday. The event includes demonstrations of Japanese cuisine, cosplay, ikebana, iaido (the art of drawing a katana to defeat an opponent), kendo, koto and odori dance, bonsai, karate, and judo. Free screenings of Your Name, Godzilla Resurgence, The Boy and the Beast, and Our Little Sister are showing at the mall’s cinema where the event is being held. If you’re in Pretoria, South Africa, the event is running from 10 am to 3 pm, Friday through Sunday, at Brooklyn Mall.
A Good Conversation
Your mileage will vary depending on where in the world you are, but even if your closest Japanese embassy is miles away, it’s worth getting in touch with them. Through my involvement in martial arts, I made friends with the cultural attaché at our local embassy, who encouraged me to apply for the JET program. Besides being some of the best five years of my life, JET introduced me to a little-known prefecture called Gunma, and a company called J-List.
Of course, if that’s still not enough Japan to satisfy you, your friend in Japan will always be here to supply you with good things from Japan.