Everyone who really knows me knows how crazy I am about Japan. I can’t exactly pinpoint when and how my interest in Japan started, but I think that TV and films have something to do with it. Perhaps it began when I was young, from watching Astroboy, Voltes V, Bioman, and Shaider. At university, I got hooked on cinema, and was in awe after watching Kurosawa’s Dreams. As the list of Japanese films I saw gets longer, the more I wanted to go to Japan. I even started taking Nihongo classes in the hope that someday, I will get fluent enough to watch films and TV dramas without any English subtitles.
But for many years, going to Japan remained a dream. There was the financial aspect, and the visa concern. For an ordinary citizen like myself, it is not exactly a walk in the park to save enough money and secure a tourist visa to Japan. But with the recent changes in visa regulations and budget-friendly airfares, the trip has become more feasible. I was about to buy a promo fare ticket already, but when it was my turn, there was no more available seat. I supposed I had to wait for the next promo.
Until my friend Ivy stumbled upon another way for me to realize my dream. She shared with me the National Youth Commission’s call for application to the JENESYS 2.0 Cultural Exchange Program. Initially I thought it was a long shot, but nonetheless a shot worth taking. I emailed my application. This was in October 2013.
Fast forward to December 1, 2013 and I was at the NYC Conference Room with 21 individuals who are as crazy as I am (if not crazier haha!) about Japan.