Have you ever felt like you knew a place without
having been there? Ever come across a familiar scene in a foreign
land that forced you to blink your eyes and double take?
My journey to my second home started when I sat my
friend best friend down, breathed in deep and made an
I like anime.
Okay, so it wasnt that dramatic. But for those who
dont know, anime refers to Japanese cartoons that have a
reputation for being oversexualised and overviolent. So for the
longest time, I was ashamed of my taste and attempted to hide it,
isolating myself from the normal conversation of the people around
Did you watch the newest episode of Glee?
How good is that One Direction song!
I just smiled in response. I wouldnt know.
I loved the intricate plotlines of anime, with its visual
symbolism of literature and cinematic flourishes of film. I also
loved how different the storytelling style is from the West, so
when I came out as an otaku (anime enthusiast), I bone
crunchingly embraced everything to do with it and its country of
In the anime community, this kind of person is derogatorily
called a weeaboo: a lover of all things Japanese. But all
the Pocky, green tea and ramen I could consume at home couldnt
compare to actually travelling to Japan. Just like LA is seen as
the dreamland of Western cinema, Japan is paradise to the
My dream first became a reality when I went around
Japan on a school trip in year 12. As I sat on the plane, sparing
no thoughts to the educational value of the trip intended by my
subject, I prepared myself for the shining glory that would be
finally getting to see in person what Id consumed for years through
a diet of onsen, crowded trains and anime high school.
Theres a mythos amongst okatu: Japan, and
especially Akihabara a district in Tokyo famed for being a manga
and anime lovers pilgrimage are jokingly called Holy Sights. But,
as is often inevitable, the fantasy of a place can be torn to
shreds by its reality.
A few days into my first Japan trip, I realised my
preconceptions about the country and its culture were maybe a
little misguided thanks to the flourishes and fantasies of the
anime artists; and perhaps a little part of me already knew that
was going to be the case.
This realisation should have crus...