Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Japan and learn about their culture. Best of all, I was able to represent the country as a female entrepreneur.
The Japanese International Cooperation Center or JICE is an organization established by Japan to implement international cooperation activities. One of the programs they run is the Jenesys (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) program, and I was lucky enough to be invited to participate and travel to the country and go through their amazing scheduled activities, free of charge.
We landed at Narita Airport on October 24. It was of course, colder than the Philippines. The following day, we visited the Naritasan temple and met the other delegates from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Laos and Myanmar. The temple was amazing and this blog post isn’t enough for me to show how amazing the experience was. I almost got lost going around but it was well worth it.
We began with our main activities when we moved to Hachinohe, specifically, Nanbu, a small farming Town, around 3 hours by train from Tokyo. It was right below Hokkaido which meant it was way way colder than the Philippine norm, and since it was right after autumn’s peak, the temperature was 5 degrees or lower. We missed the autumn peak by 2 weeks, but everything around us was still gold and orange.
The entire town was picturesque. There was no public transport except for a train that passes through the town every hour. Every adult owned a car, and the kids would carpool to and from school.
This is basically what you see when you go around town. Fields of rice, onion, raddish, pear or apples trees all over.
Part of the trip was immersing us in Japanese culture and the arts. In the main Hachinohe city, we were able to visit the Hacchi gallery to learn about an old traditional weaving art and the community efforts to promote traditional arts to the young. Hacchi is special for me because it’s a marriage of the efforts of the local artists, social entrepreneurs and the local government to keep their precious art alive.
We were also allowed to try a traditional Japanese needlework called Hishizashi, meet the local mayor, were introduced to local female entrepreneurs. And the best part of the trip for me was being able to experience how it was to live with a Japanese family.
The family assigned to be was quite old, which meant they were quite traditional. There was no wi-fi and the heater was still gas-fuelled, located outside their house. The moment we entered the house, our Okaa-san (mother) fitted us into traditional Japanese clothing, Kimonos and Yukatas. We were introduced to Oto-san (father) and Oba-san (grandmother), and then were treated to a Japanese dinner where EVERYTHING was home-made, including the yogurt.
During our stay, we were toured around the town where we visited a popular waterfall, helped out in their women-run cooperative and searched for that single Filipino who Okaa-san heard was living nearby.
At the end of the trip, the delegates presented their local dances and presented group plans on how everyone was going to use this experience to create something better. I learned a lot and tried to absorb everything in despite the busy schedule and embarrassment of dancing Itik-itik (
Video not available haha! Okay John, you win, here it is below).
The entire trip was a total of 9 unforgettable days. However, this would not have been possible for several reasons:
1. I was invited as an entrepreneur, because as virtual assistants, whether you’re a social media manager, digital marketer, writer, developer or SEO expert, we are business people. We are entrepreneurs. And once we acknowledge this, we can learn more and be open to more opportunities.
2. My work schedule was flexible enough because I worked from home and my boss saw this as a great opportunity for me. Admit it, if you took 9 days off work for something that would not directly benefit the company, you wouldn’t be given the time.
3. I was invited because of the advocacy projects I have organized and participated in. This would also not have been possible if I had a 9-5 job in a regular company in the Philippines.
So, apart from the trip, I’m actually more blessed in my every day job that allows me to do what I love online and offline. More than that, I am able to assist more Filipinos find a job and live a life they love through Onlinejobs.ph.
About Jessica Madrazo
Jessica creates content and support for OnlineJobs.ph. She is also involved in different advocacies like climate revolution, local arts, internet freedom, women’s rights and more.
She dreams of a world where people are able to tap their inner heroism and work together for a better world.
She has a Dalek watching over her computer.
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