Thursday, March 3, 2011
As I'm contemplating how many pairs of skivvies I need for my two week trip to Japan, it seems a good enough time to pause packing to explain why I'm going to Japan in the first place.
I'll be there as a member of a six-person delegation of American Journalists enlisted to build understanding of and foster the U.S./Japan alliance. Yeah heavy. The program is sponsored by the East-West Center and the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association.
From Day 1, we'll go from meeting to meeting with high level diplomats and officials. We'll also sample the culture with a walking tour of Harajuku pop culture and a world famous fish market. The visit starts in Tokyo but eventually takes us to Hiroshima, Osaka and the island of Okinawa.
I'm extremely grateful to have this opportunity, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to feeling a little over my head.
I'm especially excited to be traveling to Asia for the first time. As an adolescent, I wanted to do everything my brother did. That ended after the umpteenth time being called his name by grade school teachers. From that point, it was about trying to be my own dude. So the fact that my brother went to Japan meant Europe became my world playground.
But here I am, hours before I board a plane bound for one of the world's great cities of a country that is both mysterious and culturally intertwined with the United States. I'm excited to take part in the formal program, but I'm just as excited to experience the vibe and vigor of the city.