JAPAN / by Dario Branco

What an amazing three weeks I had in Japan.

It is hard to say anything new or unexpected about Japan other than you have to go there to experience for yourself.

Still, I am going to try to tell you about my overall experience. I will try it to keep it nice and quick for now and over time tell you how I traveled around Japan.

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No matter where I went in Japan, big city or countryside, the feeling was always the same: Cordiality.

Is hard not to compare the way people treat each other in Portugal. People are much more polite and respectful in Japan. Even not understanding the language I could see, feel and be treated with respect. This feeling got stronger when on the way back home a Portuguese guy while boarding started to make fun and being rude for no reason. It made feel ashamed and that I have nothing in common with people like him.

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Not sure about the rest of the world but here in Portugal we have a lot to learn from Japan. Not only about having manners but how things work. Don’t get me wrong please. I love Portugal and I don’t want to make this post about what is bad about it but there are things and people manners that piss me of. I am not a saint as well and going on this trip made me see that I also have to improve.

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Going to Japan I could not miss the chance to go to a few amazing iconic places and make a few photos. Again, I never felt more fulfilled to wake up at 4:40 in the morning, get on a bike and ride for thirty minutes to photograph the sunrise in Lake Kawaguchi with Mount Fuji being reflected. Being in Japan is expensive but at that moment when I made the first test photo and kept photographing during sunrise and later in the afternoon the sunset on the Chureito Pagoda, it was worth every cent I spent.

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Maybe I am a walking cliche but Is not an understatement saying that I always wanted to go see Mt Fuji. Being able to photograph it was one of the best experiences I had so far.

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As with every trip, somethings don’t go as planned. The first few days were hard and messy. I never had such a terrible jet lag. After that every time I was in a rush to go somewhere or do anything I would either forget something at the hostel or lose something on the way. Learned a valuable lesson about slowing down.

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Got to meet two cool photographers in Kyoto and learn a few things from them and a few cool travelers in Osaka. However no one will beat, on the way back to Istanbul the Japanese lady seating next to me trying to talk to me via a translation app and me giving her a list of Portuguese dishes and seeing how happy she was from it.

Did going to Japan make a better person? Probably. It didn’t change me but made think about how I treat others and how I am treated back. For me, it was impossible not to be affected by the Japanese people.

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As always, another country to get back to. Not for making photos I was not able to do but for the interactions with the people, I came across.