Japan in My Eyes and in My Tummy


Japanese Garden at Baguio Country Club, Philippines



Love for everything Japanese can be felt in my city since Japanese icons are displayed almost everywhere. The minimalistic flag with that of the crimson red dot in the middle – that is absolutely Japan’s! It may be right for me to assume that everyone in my city knows that. When we see Mt. Fuji drawn, of course, we already have the idea that such can be seen nowhere else but in Japan. Even the most significant “torii,” the traditional Japanese gate that is found at Shinto shrines, has just been built in my city. Well, there isn’t just one! They are mostly situated in some of my city’s tourist spots. The Japanese vibe may then be felt even when visiting a place, particularly my city, that is miles away from the Land of the Rising Sun.



Mirador Peace Memorial at Mirador Heritage and Eco Park, Baguio City, Philippines


Come to think of it, my generation grew up with Japanese anime series like “Doraemon” and “Dragon Ball Z” to name a few. We did not have our very own cartoons back then, so those Japanese anime series served us well as they were dubbed in our native language. Way back, we enjoyed them so much that we felt very much at ease with the sensibilities portrayed in those kids’ shows. Of course, we still enjoy them now. Japan still stays on top for having the best animations anyway. It is no secret that many foreigners start loving more about the Japanese culture because of Japanese animations. This may be one of the reasons that we somehow feel some affinity for the Japanese culture. The thing here is many of us have never been to Japan, although visiting it is in our bucket lists. It sure is a pity that I have never been there either!


I can only imagine how great Japan is for now from prints and other forms of media, not to mention from my friends’ and students’ stories and pictures. Not all their opinions about Japan are positive, yet I get this feeling that the pros of being in Japan definitely outweigh the cons.


There is something about the infrastructure in Japan that makes me think that every piece is always some work of tremendous power and vividness. Japanese people’s diligence may be one of the key factors leading to the creation of such. The creativity of putting the old and the new together also produces masterpieces. Kyoto, for instance, as it used to be the capital of Japan, got so many traditional buildings. The vibe must be so unique, taking us back into the olden times. Yet it doesn’t end there. Modernity is also portrayed by other buildings. They don’t compete against each other but stand tall in harmony. That must be so cool, for lack of a better term!


The Japanese people, other than being hardworking, are also known for their punctuality. It is a fact and sure is something that many of us admire. Time is so precious, quite transitory, uncontrollable, indispensable, that we must pay much attention to. It may appear to be a hasty generalization because some may also be tardy at times, yet a greater percentage of the population seems to be early birds. Waking up early to see the beauty of their place may be one thing that we’re missing. Getting up to get more things done is another thing that we may hear them say often.


Our sense of sight is vital to appreciate Japanese aesthetics, but there is another important key that enables me to enjoy more of what Japan has to offer and that is our sense of taste.


Here and there, Japanese snacks and drinks can be bought. New Japanese-inspired restaurants have sprouted up as well. It’s beyond amazing how our palate has gotten accustomed to the tastes of Japan from miso or maybe okonomiyaki, tempura, sushi to sashimi, and many more. I am not so certain about “natto” (fermented soybeans), though, because it is an acquired taste. We better check it out later! Still, I have to admit that I cannot determine which is authentic for now, but I can tell that at some point, many dishes in my city have been Filipinized. I just hope that such an act of tweaking some recipes may also be appreciated by the Japanese. 


Reminiscing how delightful the Japanese dishes that I have tasted so far are making me think that I can never deny how the proverb “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” works for me. I must have fallen head over heels for you, Japan!




Best Teacher


© 2011 Best Teacher Inc.