Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Raw Uncertain Displacement and the 日本の私への変化 (Transition to my Japanese self)

In Seoul, I had the rather dubious pleasure of seeing Japanese tourists behaving all foreign and rude... This I have not experienced before. Admittedly, the service in Seoul was not quite what you might get in Japan, but does this necessitate shouting their order loudly in Japanese or clapping hands to get attention?
One of the ladies in the group looked across at me apologetically. Afterwards, I approached them and asked how long they were in Seoul.
I had never before been on quite such a level footing with Japanese people - always having been either a guest in their country or a host in my own - here, though, we were all tourists in this strange and different country, coping with the language barrier and illiteracy, and the raw uncertain displacement of foreignness.

I am now sitting in 푸산 International Ferry Terminal where I have just bought myself a ticket for a Friday night ferry to 博多. Right now in front of me is a group fresh off the boat having a roll-call by a lady with the ubiquitous tour-guiding flag.

It's so refreshing to be able to understand what's being said! To be able to communicate!

It's strange, but I can feel a different sense of self bubbling up inside me - it's my Japanese self! Already I've started nattering in Japanese, and sending Japanese emails to people I'd refrained from contacting just because of the laziness of the trans-planetary language barrier.

In the past, this transition has been lost in the chaos of a 12-hour flight, but here in the gradual overland nearing, I can experience it palpably.

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