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Back to ‘Ancient’ Japan – The Act of Letting Go…

October 6, 2010

Communication in Japan
This short post was inspired by my good friend Farnoosh Brock. She was enjoying a vacation on the relaxing island of Bali, and was really wondering if she should keep her weekly routine of posting on her blog. Or should she just let go of her routines and let her embrace by the beautiful culture and nature of this Indonesian island?

Just two months earlier I myself visited Bali, so I exactly know where her struggles came from. But it made me think back to my stay in Japan in 1996. Talking about letting go…

In 1996 I left my family and my future wife and traveled to a country with an 8-hour time difference. Internet was not available, I did not have a mobile phone.

This really forced me to do it all on my own. No sharing of experiences, no online network to ask questions. It was me and my Japanese friends. I had a planned phone call back home once a week (Sunday 8pm Japan-time) and I hand wrote a weekly letter. I mean, they had to know I was doing o.k. at the least!

Now I ask myself, did this enhance the experience of spending time in Japan? Did it create an enriched memory of those months? I alone figuring it all out, I alone soaking up all that happened, all that I felt. I guess in a sense it did.

I was working on my comprehension of the Japanese culture and its people, not distracted by the need to communicate it immediately. I could give my full attention to what was happening around and with me.  Today I would have posted everything on Twitter or Facebook the minute it happened. And immediately look for another opportunity to post.

With a big smile I look back at my experiences in ‘ancient’ Japan with no internet and no mobile phones. If you have the chance of immersing yourself in a totally different culture or environment (even for a couple of days), leave online network posting to a minimum. Enjoy it, live it and come back enriched with new inspiration and life lessons.



From → Observations

  1. Hi Emiel, a post inspired by moi? How nice! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts – and believe me, I too wonder how we did it back then without internet, without social networking, without cell phones!! It was a different type of life and it was just fine. We survived, we lived, we had fun and that was that…..and I am so happy you shared this bit of wisdom in response to my dilemma….Gosh I miss Bali and I probably will for the rest of my life! Thanks Emiel….!

    • Hi Farnoosh,
      Bali is really you, it fits your lifestyle so I understand you miss it. Indeed it was a different type of life then and it’s interesting to look back and compare. I mean, that’s the benefit of getting older, right? 🙂

  2. Hi Emiel,
    I thought recently about how I enjoyed living abroad before the communication revolution too! From 1994-96, I lived in Namibia and experienced the same intensity that you describe. There was lots of letter writing and occasional phone calls, but it allowed me to live in the moment so much more.

    Sometimes, I long for those old early pre-Internet explosion days!

    • Emiel permalink

      Thanks for sharing, Mary. The intensity of traveling now and then is indeed different. It’s funny to compare as the differences are so big in just a short period of time.
      Namibia must have been impressive, especially as peace corps volunteer. Would be great to read your stories of that period.

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