April, 2012

My countless sojourns to ancestral Japan have been a series of quaint revelations. Superficially, today’s Japan is very Western. I have observed (unscientifically) that the Japanese interaction to Nikkeijin is different from that experienced by non-Japanese visitors. Japanese Canadians dress ‘Western’; our non-verbal messages are ‘Western’ and our Japanese (influenced by our Nikkei parents) are out of date – some to the Meiji period. There is no mistaking a tourist walking down the Ginza wearing shorts and t-shirt while the locals are dressed in the latest high fashion. What confuses them is that Nikkeijin look Japanese and therefore they assume that we should know better than to wear such casual clothing in public. My wife believes, comfort trumps fashion in Japan during the summer months. As a sansei, my Japanese is dated as is my Kagoshima-ben (Kagoshima dialect). A prominent Japanese Canadian once shocked his Japanese hosts when he asked directions to the ‘benjo’ (crap house – a term normally used in many Japanese Canadian households). Of course my Japanese experiences may indeed be unique only to me – some of my friends regularly comment on my ‘uniqueness’ in a non-positive vein.

I have been waved away by a Japan Rail attendant at Tokyo Station when I asked directions to the exit or given a sarcastic answer from a clerk who thought that I was mentally challenged. I am sure they thought, ‘you’re Japanese, why are you asking such childish questions?”. An ijusha friend, planning to return to Japan after an absence of more than 20 years, told me that since he had lived abroad for so long he was not going to speak Japanese but only English and if asked where he was from he was to going to tell them that he was from Hawai’i. Given such challenges, it is understandable that many Sansei who wish to visit Japan are reluctant to do so. Well, the NAJC has come to your rescue! The National Association of Japanese Canadians , working with Safeway Holidays and Signet Tours, has fashioned the 2012 NAJC Japan Heritage Tour—a guided tour to Japan from October 2nd to the 10th of this year.

The tour will cover the major cities in the Kansai district: Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Kyoto and will include the Peace Park in Hiroshima as well as the beautiful Miyajima Island with their famous Itsukushima Shrine. Most of the major historic and religious sites as well as world famous shopping districts are on the itinerary. A unique heritage component will be an ‘inaka’ (countryside) minshuku experience where we will stay with a Japanese farmer for one night and spend two days doing crafts and light farm work (harvesting, dye making, sake and soba making etc.). One will have the option of extending the trip once the official tour ends. The cost of the tour from Toronto is $3,858.00 and $3,776.00 from Vancouver (excludes fuel surcharge and taxes). You will note that this price is a bargain since most advertised tours to Japan do not include airfare. The majority of meals are covered as are admissions to sites, local transportation including a ride on the Nozomi Super Express Shinkansen to Hiroshima. Since this is a special heritage tour, a minimum of 20 participants is required for the trip to proceed. A detailed itinerary is posted on the NAJC website: www.najc.ca . Direct inquires can be made to: Mr. Joseph Sheu, Safeway Holidays 1-888-258-4716 (toll free) or email to: japantours@shaw.ca We invite everyone to join us for what promises to be a unique experience.

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