COLUMN 2016年1月5日

My Foreign New Year with A Japanese Family—from Komaba Times

東京大学教養学部の学生による英語ニュースレター『Komaba Times』からの転載記事です。ベトナム人留学生が体験した、日本の家庭でのお正月。書き初めなど日本文化に触れて感じた、自国の文化との共通点とは。(文責:Xuan Truong Trinh)

In many years away from my country, I have never been so glad to be welcomed as a son in a family, greeting New Year just like a Japanese.  I was lucky enough to follow my friend to Osaka and stay in her house for the New Year celebration. Five days there taught me much more about Japanese culture than I could ever imagine.

This moment perhaps capture my induction into a Japanese New Year. In the Japanese style house, I could feel the traditional atmosphere. Items around the house held on to the past, untouched by the rapid passage of time. In this family, customs were delicately kept from being melted in globalization.

I was lucky to be sitting next to Kenji, a lover of Calligraphy. By showing me how to write simple words, he started his New Year with a different experience. Same for me, I was witnessing a holder of Japanese culture, an opportunity not everyone has. “Seeing a person’s calligraphy, much of his personalities, stream of thoughts, and even life history is told.” – I have heard. There was something familiar.

In Vietnamese culture, we also have calligraphy. Nonetheless, through the course of changes in language, we now use Romaji for alphabet. Along with that, Vietnamese calligraphy adapted itself to Romaji as well. As I was telling this story, I realized how Japanese and Vietnamese share similarities in culture and lifestyle. It felt like we were distant families, parting off somewhere in the past to grow in different ways, but still bear the likeness to recognize each other.

What I liked the most was how people put aside the worries of daily life to enjoy New Year together. The so-called ‘Public face’ that observed in people here were opened up to create a joyful atmosphere of a Hanafuda game. I learnt then that people had very clear line between their public profile and personal profile, allowing almost no interference.

What is more, family gatherings like this are what I have rarely seen in New Zealand. Family bond is what I like about the East, which gives each person a sense of belonging, of relation to others, of being under the same roof.

It was a delightful New Year that warmed up my winter in another country. It was not only being welcomed, but also finding the intimate relationship between Japanese culture and my culture that really left in me many memorable experiences. Thanks, Japan.

*This column was reproduced from Komaba Times (Komaba Times—An English Newsletter by University of Tokyo students)

2016/01/06 9:45 表示形式の関係でタイトルを修正しました