BY EUGENE CLIFF BAYENG from Philippines, Trainee
What a contradiction, don’t you think? Well, here’s my story. When I arrived at Narita Airport, I was so happy that for the first time in my life, I stepped on a foreign land. I was so excited and at the same time nervous to meet with the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) staff and co-trainees from around the globe.
After a three-day activity in Tokyo, we were dispatched to the Japan International Academy for Municipalities (JIAM) in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture where we took our Japanese language class. Aside from it, we had workshops on life in Japan, etc., study tours of Shiga, Osaka, and Kyoto Prefectures, and everyday sports. Here, I was so happy that I had gained friends of different nationalities and cultures.
After a month and two weeks of Japanese language classes, I came to Kochi Prefecture for my five-month specialized training. It’s here that I’ve discovered that Kochi is 84% mountainous and the largest prefecture in Shikoku. Kochi has many festivals and one of the most famous is the Yosakoi Festival that I had the opportunity of participating in. A whole day dance along the streets was so tiresome but enjoyable and receiving a medal relieved the tiredness.
There were party invitations from Japanese friends too and my advice is that if you do, you better have good alcohol endurance! Going to other places in Kochi was fun! Further, I tried some of Kochi’s delicacies and specialties too! Katsuo-no-Tataki and Nabeyaki Ramen, to mention a few, are delicious.
Besides these happy and wonderful experiences is the loneliness that I feel despite the presence of some friends. I just don’t know… Before coming to Japan, I thought the feeling would be the same as when I had my first job away from my parents and siblings (it wasn’t that much of a big deal) but I think I was wrong. Maybe it’s because being away from my own family for a long period for the very first time is a different story.
Taken from vol.21 (December, 2007 & January, 2008. The Best of Kochi)