Why Japan.

“Do you want to be Japanese or something?”
When I first expressed my interest in Japan and started researching and gushing over Japan, that was the question that a lot of people asked me. And to be honest, it made me very very confused and for a very long time after that, I kept asking myself “Why Japan?”

Now I can easily say “No, I don’t want to be Japanese, and I’m really happy to be who I am.” because I’ve come to realise that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate Japan the way I do without my current cultural background. Me being a Singaporean, Indian, Vegetarian, 20-something theatre girl makes me see Japan in a very different way from how a 50 year old Japanese man might view the very same Japan. And I’m glad for this.

So I’ve made a list of the things I love about Japan and how I view Japan at the moment. I suspect this will change after living in Japan for a year, and I’m fine with that. :

1. Japanese traditional theatre.
This really made me appreciate the smaller things around me. It slowed time down and made me remember how to breathe.

2. Shounen Manga and Anime
A life-saver in times of stress and angst. One Piece, Bleach, Yakitate Japan!, Shingeki no Kyojin…all of them there for me to unwind at the end of the day.

3. Natural/Muji clothes and Layering
I developed my love for Natural clothes after graduation from Lasalle and boy am I glad I did that. They’re comfortable, look decent, aren’t too tight or too baggy, gives you just a little bit of kawaii and on the whole makes me happy. For a long time before that I’d struggled to portray a certain “image” of myself as a director especially at Lasalle. But the “professional” clothes never made me happy, until I found this style.

4. Language
I can’t get enough of hearing Japanese being spoken. It’s pretty as hell and I can listen to it even if I’ve got no clue what’s being said…..if only Kanji came to me in my dreams. : [

5. Architecture and Nature
Somehow I think architecture and nature blend really nicely in Japan. Not sure why, and I don’t feel like analysing this.

6. Philosophy
Somehow everything comes back to sounding pretty and aesthetically heart-warming and calming in Japanese philosophy. Or at least the philosophy that I’ve read thus far anyway…

I’d go on, but this is the core of what attracts me to Japan in most cases. I think you’ll see that I’ve said pretty and peaceful a lot…or at least that idea resonates with me a lot. And I guess that’s what I appreciate Japan for the most. Japan pleases my aesthetic appetite both visually and mentally.

I’d also like to go on to say that I’m not blindly in love with everything and anything Japanese. I SHOULDN’T love anything blindly or totally because everything has it’s flaws and NOTHING is perfect. There ARE aspects that I don’t like/disagree with. But these are not things that affect me directly. Nor are they things that matter so much to me, that I might boycott Japan entirely. So my love for Japan remains intact.

“But what about your Indian culture? What about being Singaporean?”
What about it? I’ve never been ashamed of it. I’ve never given it up or denied it’s existence in my life. Actually, I don’t think that’s even possible. I can’t deny my roots. I’ll always get a certain happiness out of eating home cooked Indian food. I’ll always have a place in my heart for Tamil. I can’t possibly give up what little Singlish I know because it’s so damn effective when I want to communicate to so many people. I can’t give up my love for multi-cultural/inter-cultural/multi-lingual interactions that was made possible by the fact that I live in Singapore.

I can’t NOT be who I am.

Being Indian is in my blood and Singapore is my birthplace and where I grew up. That will never change EVEN IF I were to change my change my citizenship some day. And this identity will always colour the way I see Japan and how Japan sees me. And that’s ok!

“So what are you gonna do with Japan/Japanese/Japanese culture/Japanese theatre?”
I don’t know. Sure, I have ideas. But the future has a funny way of working itself out. The thing is, I’ve started out this exploration, and I’ve got no intentions of being “half-assed” about it. I started studying Japanese and I don’t want to drop it half way. I’ve studied Japanese theatre and worked on it for my Bachelor’s thesis.

How all this will fall in line in my life however, is beyond me. I want to translate, I want to collaborate, I want to direct, I want to create, I want to teach. So many wants….but only time will tell.



So my bottom line is that I’m at peace with myself and who I am.
Once upon a time, I was ashamed of my love for Japan because I didn’t know what to do with it, or where it came from, or why. But I’m not that person anymore. And I’m glad for that. 🙂


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