Stretching out next to my best friend at practice one day, she randomly asks me “Do you want to come to Japan with me this Summer?” I turn to look at her and realize that she’s not kidding. I’ve never had anyone ask me a question like that before but then I became cognizant of how fun it sounds. My friend, her sister whom I am also friends with, me and their family in Tokyo and Okinawa. As I think about what we would do and how interesting it would be going to the country that I’ve only dreamed of visiting, in a vicissitude moment I realize that there’s something else new that would happen if I decided to go. Leaving home. Even though I’m fifteen years old I had never left home for more than a couple days without still being with someone in my family. I’m not someone who would normally fear such a trivial thing and yet I felt myself suddenly nervous. When I discussed this with my parents, who have already met and gotten to know my friend’s parents, they said that it sounded like fun and encouraged me to go. Another surprise. While we were planning the trip, I had decided that I would ignore any thought of my slight separation anxiety.
Within a couple of weeks we had boarded the plane to leave for Tokyo, Japan. Since my friend’s family had lived on base we decided to stay at their house for a couple of days. While in Tokyo we were able to visit the Kodokan Judo Club, which was a visit that was highly anticipated by my friend and I. The Kodokan had been established by Jigoro Kano, the creator of judo, and is said to practice the most traditional judo in the world. Besides this fact, there was also a great deal of history in this judo club. Since Mr. Kano had developed many of his theories of judo there, they were able to keep many of his original writings. While viewing them and absorbing the beautiful tradition surrounding me, I felt as if I finally understood why he had created such a sport. There was so much thought and contemplation put into this art that I had taken for granted since I had fallen in love with it when I was ten years old. I only hoped to one day become the disciplined and well trained student that Jigoro Kano had wished all of his students to become.
I didn’t realize that I had ignored the fact so long that I was already on the trip. I had faced my fear by ignoring it, but ignorance could only last so long. Talking to my dad on the phone one night, I had to stop myself from crying: wow. I never thought that I’d miss my family as much as I did and though I didn’t realize it then, I had overcome a fear of mine. I may not show it but I really need my family, a group of people who have always been there for me.
My trip to Japan had been very fulfilling because I had been able to return to the home of my ancestors and revisit the many traditions that had been forgotten in my Japanese-American family. After graduation I wish to return to this country because of its beautiful mountains, breathtaking architecture, family tradition, and polite, kind and honest people. It was difficult leaving my family for this trip, but I had never felt more connected to my family’s history as I had when in Japan.
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