Why Did You Come to Japan?

Oct 30, 2016

By Stacey Sloughfy

Why Did You Come to Japan?

There is a television show in Japan that airs every Monday called Why Did You Come to Japan? A Japanese camera crew stops foreigners arriving at Narita airport in Tokyo and asks them what the purpose is for their visit. My best friend’s dad told me about this show shortly after I arrived for my six-week stay at their house. He joked that I was there, “to sleep and fold laundry!”

That was partially true while I was recovering from the mysterious virus I contracted on the plane ride there. But when I wasn’t sleeping or folding laundry I was on a search. Although I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for at first, I’m certain I found it along the way.

I overcame fear. My journey began when I was forced to maneuver the Japanese train system. Exhausted from traveling for three days from my home in Indiana, my plane was diverted a couple hundred miles south from Tokyo to Osaka airport due to turbulence. There were no more flights so I had to take a train to find my host family in Tokyo. I was terrified at the idea of going alone, but I quickly made friends with the angel God placed in the seat beside me on the plane. We plotted, prayed, sweated, laughed and cried through the ordeal but we bravely made it to our destination together.

I taught. I packed a children’s devotional in my suitcase and read an English lesson with my friend’s nine-year-old son every morning. Not only did he get to practice his English skills, he also learned about Jesus. I learned many Japanese words in the process.

I explored. I had my own bicycle and ventured out almost daily, some days riding ten miles or more. I visited shopping centers, beautiful shrines, Starbucks and my favorite Italian restaurant. Since I had been forced to overcome my fear of working the train system upon arrival in Japan, I rode one alone to Harajuku in Tokyo from my friend’s house in Inage-Ku and visited the famous Meiji Jingu Shrine. There I found confidence, gratitude and peace.

I made new friends. I connected with the family who lived across the street from my host family. They took me on several outings including gorgeous flower gardens and a gigantic mall. One evening they invited me to their backyard BBQ. The entire family spoke fluent English, which was refreshing. And their three-year old grandson Yuto sang Row Row Row Your Boat to me in the sweetest little voice reminding me of my childhood and that we are all children at heart no matter where we live in the world.

I survived multiple earthquakes. As if the mysterious illness I contracted on my journey there was not enough, after I recovered I had to deal with my bed shaking uncontrollably on at least four occasions. They were low magnitude quakes but that was more earth shaking than I had experienced in my entire life up to that point.

I relaxed. I took hot baths at public Japanese spas and experienced a hot rock bed for the first time. I took naps in the afternoons. I read several books cover to cover. I sat in the park and people watched. I drank a lot of coffee and daydreamed. I learned to breathe again.

I ate. I enjoyed delicious meals prepared at home by my host family and I learned how to prepare many dishes myself. I cooked dinner for my friends on my last night and they actually enjoyed it! I ate homemade miso soup and rice every day and ice cream for dessert. I took myself out to restaurants. Pointing at pictures on the menu works just as well in Japan as it does at Denny’s!

I traveled. I flew to Okinawa for three nights with my friend on a girl’s only trip. We enjoyed hanging out on the beautiful beach, touring a pineapple park and winery, eating a lot of good food, revisiting my Fuguki Tree Road and just enjoying quality time together.

I worshipped. I visited a Christian church on my last full Sunday in Japan where I prayed with a congregation full of Japanese Christians. They spoke a different language than me but together we worshipped the same God. I thanked Him for blessing me so much with the gift of such an amazing adventure in this wondrous country.

I may have slept and folded a lot of laundry but I did manage to do many wonderful things. I overcame fear in the process and I left behind anxiety that I brought to Japan with me. I slept in the top bunk and gazed at the glowing stars on the wall papered ceiling as I drifted off to sleep every night. I became physically active again. I bicycled. I kayaked. I even participated in a tug of war contest. I learned patience and endurance in ways I never experienced before. I learned that people everywhere are the same on the inside. And I thanked God for blessing me so much in life.

To simply answer the question, “Why did you come to Japan?”

I went to Japan to find freedom.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence 2016 Travel Writing Award and tell your story.

About the Author

Stacey Sloughfy

Stacey Sloughfy is a writer, inspirational blogger and traveler who loves Jesus, the Japanese culture, Mexican food, warm weather and concerts. She has maintained an inspirational blog website since August 2013. When she is not writing, traveling or sharing her faith and inspiring others on social media, she is most likely cuddled up at home in southern Indiana with her two cats named after a song from her favorite band.

We Said Go Travel

We Said Go Travel