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Matthew Swanston

Canadian in China

Tag / Japan

10 Things I’ll Miss About Japan

There’s no doubt Japan has a unique culture, the subtleties of which became increasingly obvious the longer I lived in Tokyo. Its uniqueness is just as apparent in the competitive swimming world as any other; Japanese clubs develop their huge depth in the sport by requiring children to master perfect stroke technique before they are allowed to advance to the next level. Within this rigid structure are plenty of cultural quirks, like bowing to the pool to show respect before and after a race.

Cultural nuances in the land of the rising sun have little regard for outside norms; Japanese people do things their way, with precise method that they never stray from. Although adjustment was a bit of a process, I became accustomed to Japanese life over the better part of the past year. I’m already missing some of the small things now that I’m back in Canada for the summer. Here are 10 of them, in no particular order.

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Lake Sai, Japan

The northern base of Fuji is home to five lakes, formed during past eruptions of the iconic Japanese mountain. One of them is Lake Sai. A campground at the water’s edge, nestled between forested cliffs, was my residence for a rainy week in October.

I was joining a team of teachers from The American School in Japan to help supervise the annual Grade 8 trip to this remote destination. Having landed in Tokyo only a few days prior, I was still fighting jet lag when I arrived at my empty cabin. But the chilly morning air, which I confronted only with the aid of steaming hot-chocolate-laced-coffee in a thermos, snapped me into routine.

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