Hi there, future intern!
I write to you about a month and a half after the end of my placement with CityNet PlusArts, in Kobe. I honestly cannot believe so much time has passed, it feels like just yesterday that I was having my onboarding meetings in Victoria with Robyn and the rest of the CAPI interns. We were all warned that we would feel like time flew by, but I guess I couldn’t really comprehend the speed of it all until I was actually finished.
I urge you to savor every little moment and try to capture as much as you can, no matter how small or unmemorable (especially if unmemorable!) either through photos or journal entries, etc. There are so many unique, remarkable, magical, and intriguing places that Japan has to offer that it’s easy to get wrapped up in large travel plans with glamorous destinations. There is so much content and advice on how to best travel around in Japan and what attractions are “must-sees”. I visited so many different cities over the span of five months and I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of the beauties that Japan has to offer.
However, although one should absolutely try and see as much as Japan has to offer, I have lately found myself reflecting on and reminiscing about the small moments that made up my daily life in Kobe. The slow rocking of the local train weaving through the forested mountains of Suzurandai, the cozy mouthwatering scent of steamed buns from the station’s 551 Horai, the rushed bustle and flashing lights in Sannomiya, and the twirling golden leaves falling off the ginkgo trees around the office. These are the details that fill the mosaic of memories formed from my placement.
Amidst the flutter of busy Japanese city life and the high-speed trains taking you from one city to the next, I found that I sometimes forgot to appreciate the simple and humble moments of day-to-day life, which quietly define my time there.
As I am inching uncomfortably close to the day I will be leaving Japan, I am confronted with an overwhelming flurry of competing emotions. Although I am excited to go back to Canada, I am already grieving the part of myself that I feel I will inevitably be leaving behind in Japan. As a mixed Japanese person with a complicated history here, I firmly believe that this experience healed me in ways that are hard to put into words. I am leaving no longer feeling like a “half” (the Japanese term for someone with a Japanese parent), like I am missing an ineffable special something that would validate my “Japanese-ness” to myself and others. My entire perception and sense of self have been shifted and reconstructed throughout my time here.
Of course, my experience is uniquely my own and I’m sure you, dear future intern, will be coming into it with a distinct set of eyes and heart. While on paper the placement is defined by its professional and academic features, it can be such a powerful ephemeral and suspended space for you to take a step back and look into yourself and your life from an entirely different viewpoint. Just remember to make sure that you’re carving out the space to be able to appreciate the small quotidian moments and check in with your present self instead of rushing through the metaphorical pages of the journey because this experience might just end up being one of your favorite chapters!