To be an anthropologist

Quite literally, I am lost in translation. Stepping into another culture with language, food, writing and customs that are alien to me is quite a discombobulating experience.

I am the visitor, the guest. My intention is to approach my Japanese experience as a guest, with humility and awe.

As we stood waiting for the Narita Express, a short, elderly Japanese man came and stood nearby. He set his legs and then napped, standing, waiting for the train. My heart completely softened as his witness. I wonder how someone could be so tired to need to catch a moment of sleep while waiting for a train, and how sleeping standing up is possible. I wondered about his family, the people who love him.

Walking through the crowded streets of Shinjuku last night, huge media banners had images of so very young Japanese teenagers, their skin white and their eyes artificially doe-like. Living anime. 

I cannot read the signs, so I have only questions. 

I am not seeking to answer the questions in a hurry. I want to take in the whole. I could make a whole raft of assumptions. I could layer my culture on the top, and consider sexualisation, or escapism.

But I do not know. 

This is to be an anthropologist. To watch, witness, ask questions, observe. To refuse to put my world onto another. To recognise that it is not about making sense of others through my story. Rather, to let my story, culture and narrative go as another story tells itself.

Photo Taken August 20th  2023