There is no doubt that due to my life as a boy scout, I have taken a certain liking to adventures that includes outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, and camping. As Japan is known for such activities, this is one of the main reasons that have always attracted me to it. In this particular outing, my Dutch friend was looking for a buddy to camp in a private beach with a group in Shodo Shima, one of Japan’s islands. The idea seemed quite intriguing and I decided to join him. Furthermore, another point that interested me was the fact that this camping was an event designed to get Japanese and foreigners to come together and socialize. As such, I saw it as a great opportunity to practice my language skills and get to meet people from different backgrounds and age groups.
When we got to the meeting location in the train station in Kobe, I met part of the group. Among them, I met a Japanese named Fumika. To my surprise, Fumika knew Spanish as well as English. As I had never met a Japanese who spoke Spanish, we instantaneously cliched and got talking as to why I had come to Japan and how she knew Spanish. It was then that she told me that she had recently returned home from Mexico, where she lived, and had resided in other Spanish-speaking countries such as Nicaragua. We conversed all the way from the ferry ride to Shodo Shima till later that night.
In the Island
As we got to the island, there was a resident waiting to take our bags in a mini truck. We started hiking to the beach but were picked up by the mini truck about halfway through the hike. I had the pleasure of meeting a Japanese family, comprising of a Japanese girl of about 10 years old and her parents. I got to talking with them and explained how the island reminded me of Puerto Rico. It was then that they taught me the word Natsukashii, which means nostalgic.
Already in the island and settled in, the first thing we did was swim in the beach. The water was quite cold but refreshing at the same time. We played some games in the water until it was starting to get dark. For dinner, we had Spaghetti and a Japanese resident explained to me why people always say Itadakimasu before a meal. Such notion is based on humility and the moral principle that if someone offers you life substance such as food, you are grateful and will repay the person afterwards.
Furthermore, what was peculiar about this islander was that he gave off a mysterious but positive aura and seemed rather wise. I couldn’t help but think of him as that wise village leader from feudal Japan that is always indoctrinating Japanese into becoming the best Samurai, by first changing their inner self. What further validated my thinking was the fact that later that night, as he asked me what my future goals were, he pointed to the top of a mountain and told me that I could attain anything I proposed myself in life just like I could have hiked that mountain if I proposed myself to do it. His remarks were indeed full of hope and made me ponder about my future career aspirations and my intentions in learning Japanese.
Afterwards, we made a bonfire and continued conversing by getting to know about each other more. A Japanese named Senka recognized Puerto Ricans by having the most beautiful women as we had won various Miss Universe pageants. An Australian also served as the DJ as he brought speakers and played music throughout the night.
However, as my Dutch friend and I had to attend classes later on, we could only stay one night. The next day, we were able to Kayak on the beach and explore the island more. We ended up in another section as we saw a house but it looked abandoned. There was also a small island to which we could have gone with our kayaks but it was too far away and we ended up going back. Afterwards, the group coordinator was ready to take us back and we said our goodbyes. This experience was indeed memorable as it was the first time I was able to meet people that were different from my age group and ranged from backgrounds as well as nationalities.