Text and photos by Nataliia Pavlyk
Konichi wa! This is the first greeting phrase everyone hears getting out of the plane and stepping on the outlandish land of Nippon koku. Our first working day as a part of MIRAI program started with a sunrise because of feeling the jet lag. Nevertheless, due to the huge panoramic windows and clear weather, we were lucky to see Fujisan in all her greatness for the first time!
After having traditional Japanese breakfast with brown rice tea at Shinagawa Prince Hotel, we were invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to participate in three lectures.
Personally, I was incredibly impressed by the first meeting on bushido leaded by professor Alex Campbell Bennet. As a philosophy student, I was eager to know more about Japanese philosophical thought “from the inside”. Moreover, it greatly exceeded my expectations because of the speaker’s style of delivering the material. Many examples from his personal experience of living in Japan for 30 years (being originally from New Zealand) together with the demonstration of traditional martial arts made the talk incredibly successful.
The lunch on the top of Tokyo opened a marveous view on the city, its huge skyscrappers, numerous bridges, and picturesque gardens on the roofs, we continued our lecture session. Next speakers were talking about foreign policy of Japan, paying the main attention to African countries and nuclear disarmament of North Korea.
In the evening, we had delicious dinner in one of the capital’s restaurants. What was really appreciated was a special vegetarian section where we not only enjoyed our splendid meals, but also had a chance to closely meet people from other countries with the same gastronomical (and even worldview) preferences.
Tired but fullfilled with inspiration, we had a short evening walk around the city meeting local people and seeing Shinto shrines among “stone jungles”.
Overall, it was the first time in the land of rising sun for the majority of us and it really was unforgettable. We dived into a new culture and its harmonious spirit of ancient traditions and up-to-date technologies. What was really appealing to my heart is the hospitality, openness, and friendliness of Japanese people.
So our journey only starts, and we are looking forward to broadening our horizons more and more.