Text and photo by Natallia Synkovets
What to start with… my first real day in Tokyo was embraced with unbelievable expectations. What I am going to see, who I will speak with, what persons I will meet.
The possibility to see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan with my own eyes struck me as exciting since I am studying International Business at my University in Kiev. This is directly connected with deep understanding of International Relations and I was expecting to hear the lecture of Japan-North Korea relations. Everybody understands the threat that North Korea currently imposes and I believe that there it is impossible to find an intelligent person who will be supporting the taught measures that can lead to war. But, that´s only my humble opinion and I was very much looking forward to hearing an expert speak about this critical issue.
You can imagine my disappointment when I heard that first we are going to listen to the lecture about Culture. Please, don’t understand me wrong; I do like culture. However, if I had the possibility to choose, you may understand what I would opt for. If only I knew how deeply wrong I was! The lecture of Alex Bennett is what i will remember most clearly from my first day of staying here. He completely kept the attention of everyone whiles speaking about his school year in Japan and unprecedented experience with kendo, a sport which is not even a sport but a philosophy and a way of self improvement in order to be a decent member of society – with respect to others and taking into account your counterpart. It will take me a lot to speak about his lecture. The main point is that it’s far to complicated to call it a mere sport.
As all marshal arts these are one of the peculiarities of a Japanese culture, concealed from understanding from the first sight. This is much deeper and has a strong background. Mr. Bennett did his best to help us understand at least something from the kendo philosophy, which is extremely difficult to do in 90 minutes. Although I am sure that I will not start kendo in Kiev, because it’s too painful for me, I know that I will start to learn about Japanese culture that hides so many secrets and indeed is not so simple as it may seem.