While sitting in one of the intensive drill classes today, and being corrected on everything from my posture to the length of my "o" in arigatoo, I came to a serious realization. -Learning Japanese is not simply learning the language to speak it, it is learning the language to understand and express the culture.
So, what do I mean? Well, as you may recall in a previous post, it is one of my language goals to become proficient enough to allow me to both express myself and be myself while speaking Japanese. However, since being here for only 2 days, I have concluded that the very essence of Takara, clashes with Japanese culture...
You see, anyone who knows me, will attest that I am direct & to-the-point, I hate restrictions, not a fan of feeling obligated to do anything. And, I am very much independent- as my sweetie Sean likes to point out to me often. I pretty much live by the saying, "People do, what they want to do," and I truly don't feel that life should consists of doing things you don't want to, just to follow a protocol, or make people happy. (I could go on, however, I think you get it...)
<Enter, Culture Clash>
Well, Japanese culture is just the opposite of all of the above. Indirectness is paramount, restrictions are the norm, and cultural and societal obligations are just as numerous as salary-men. It's not about what you want to do, or how you feel. It's about the bigger picture, the community, the group, and the other person.
So, what's a sista to do? While in class today, I realized that another dimension of Takara is emerging to compliment who and what I am. Hence the title "Takara & Ta-ka-ra." You see, Takara is ME- What you SEE is what you GET! I am the ROOTS-loving, thrift-store shopping, jazz-listening, most-of-the-time late arriving, "independent" sista from Alabama, who is trying to do her thang in the world. And, learning another language and culture is a part of the many "thangs" I want to do.
Ta-ka-ra, is the student of Japanese culture and language who has finally realized the difference between being a tourist, and experiencing another culture. Ta-ka-ra, is the sista who understands that learning Japanese involves much more than memorizing verbals and their various forms. Ta-ka-ra is the one who finally beginning to understand the culture surrounding lanquage.
I have finally broken through my wall to critically examine myself and am beginning to embrace inevitable change. While Takara still wants to get her point across and have her loud voice heard, Ta-ka-ra is learning how, with whom, where, and @ one moment, to get it done.
Looking forward to the upcoming year in Japan and the many more lessons to learn,