Japan is my home. This is where I grew up. I have blond hair and blue eyes, but when people ask me where I’m from they are always surprised. After coming back from a recent trip that I took solo, possibilities built up in my head. Ideas and thoughts came flowing, and because of these new experiences I felt like a different person.
Travel. How can I explain it? It changes people in different ways, but you have to want to change and accept it. You must be willing to bend near the breaking point, and then things will start to get interesting. People might sigh as they read this, mutter to themselves that they don’t have enough time or money to travel.
You need to know one thing: Traveling does not have to be limited to an airplane. I’m sure there are plenty of nooks and crannies that you have not discovered in your own city and thousands of rocks that are still left unturned. Each time you exit your house without your watch and phone, you will be opening yourself up to so many possibilities your glass will over fill.
I would like to share with you some of the rocks that I finally managed to turn over myself.
One is this knife shop in my area. The old man who owns it sits outside of it and sharpens knives every day. He has a glass eye(I think he does anyway), one always steady on me, while the other is always turned in a different direction staring into space.
We have been “waving buddies” for a while now, but I didn’t go out of my way to spend too much time with him. I always told myself that I would pay a visit “later”.
After coming back from traveling, I wanted to shoot that word and eliminate it from my vocabulary.
I came back, and I sat outside of his shop and started drawing. Because I stick out relatively well, it didn’t take long for him to notice me. He gave me a shout in Japanese, “Nani shiteiru no??” What are you doing?
I told him that I was drawing his shop and he seemed mildly pleased by the gesture. He muttered with a smile that he should have cleaned the outside a bit more.
I find messy things really fun to draw. To me, it gives an area more character.
I sat in the cold and sketched that building. I drew the bricks slowly and admired little things I never noticed before- even though I pass by every day.
Before I started painting it in, he calls to me to come in to warm up. He gives me cookies and yokan to eat which is a bar of red beans mixed with sugar. Coffee was also given and thawed out my hands.
Before I would go out and finish the job again, we spotted a man walking by wearing shabby clothes and a sporting a raggy beard. One look at him told me that he was homeless. He headed straight to the vending machines across the street and we looked at him with pure fascination as he unhooked the gutters and started to search for money.
With the first vending machine he didn’t seem to have much luck. He quickly moved on to he second one. I felt sorry for him as we watched, but neither of us could help but stare. He pulled up another gutter. A look of excitement came upon his face and we watched him dig through the mud. He washed off the dirt and put his shiny new coin in his pocket. One coin… Two coins … Three coins. He was at it for ten minutes and a tremendous curiosity came over my knife-sharpener friend. He exited the shop and walked straight up to him. The homeless man had his back to him and did not want to look at him.
This did not discourage my elderly neighbor and after making some small talk about how he seemed to have been working hard. After a while he could not contain his curiosity and asked “How much did you find?”
The homeless man mumbled under his breath that he had found 3000 yen, which would be about 30 dollars. He let him get back to work and joined me in in the shop.
“3000 yen in ten minutes. Man! That’s better than what I make in an hour. Maybe I should try being homeless.”
My neighbor looked at this situation in a different light. While I was feeling sorry, he gave it a funnier twist. At face value, this afternoon could look normal, but there are gems in each day are just waiting to be discovered.