BY ANNETTE LANGSTONE from England, ALT
Often, when we foreigners think of Japan, we have pre-conceived ideas of how the Japanese are, involving Geisha, or perhaps Sumo! As I had only viewed Japan (well, Tokyo!) through the news, my no.1 image was that of the Japanese businessman – wearing a sharp suit, and, on the surface at least, perhaps a little aloof.
However, I remember arriving in Towa Village, Kochi and being whisked off to drinking parties left right and centre, and realising that people here were very different from my preconceptions. This realisation was heightened only a week later after I was violently attacked and hospitalised for a month.
These people, whom I had only known for one week, dropped everything to stay by my side. We couldn’t really “say” much to each other without an interpreter, but just having them by my side the whole time was something that helped me through that ordeal more than anything. Far from being “aloof”, they smiled and laughed with me. It was because of their kindness that I felt I could, and wanted to return to that village.
We have worked together now for about a year and a half, and although we will soon be separated, and I will return home in July, I will always think of those people as my family. I truly believe that for every bad person you meet, you meet a thousand good ones. I am happy that I was able to learn this lesson in Japan and, because of this, my view of the Japanese has changed greatly.
Taken from vol.10 (May, 2006. Season of fresh green leaves)