I first became interested in Japan through a mixture of anime, manga, and selective pieces of history taught in school. It wasn't until midway through high school that Japan was defined to me as more than samurai, robots, and brightly animated stories. An exchange student from Japan sat behind me in English class throughout the fall semester of my junior year. She was quick to refute several of the opinions I held in regards to Japan and patiently explained tidbits of culture and religion. The information took almost a year to sink in and by the end I had a growing interest in visiting Japan to study both the culture and people.
This trip has given me an opportunity I could not have mimicked in the United States. Traveling through some of the largest cities in Japan I witnessed the life and rituals I had only been told of before. Speaking with Buddhist and Shinto priests, performing a ritual to call the kami, and walking the grounds of various shrines and temples have given me a new perspective of and respect for Japanese religions. In the project to follow both through Second Life and the website, I hope to share my experiences with those similarly interested.
I have studied for three years at Ball State University, pursuing a major in English (Creative Writing) and a minor in Theater Studies. The trip to Japan has enriched my creative palette and will help me continue to improve as a writer. A friend once told me it was not enough to simply study writing. One must experience life in order to recreate it for an audience. This course in Japan has not only offered me a view into the struggles of a tourist in a foreign country but the lives of the Japanese and the details of their unique interactions with both each other and us.