While talking with a family at our church, Lizbet was told about the immense depression that grips the Japanese people. After walking around for a couple of days with that in my head, it became more and more apparent how true that is.
On our second day here, we wondered all the way downtown, in the middle of a bunch of stores, street vendors, and just crowds of people. I had read before leaving the States that social etiquette didn’t allow much P.D.A. (fine by me), so to see a couple walking a few feet apart didn’t surprise me. The distance between these couples, however, is much more than a physical space. Apparently, the guarded emotions and demeanor carries throughout their entire life. The formal hospitality and conversation are a carefully constructed wall keeping things out and in.
So far the language barrier alone has prevented any kind of deeper divulgence from anyone we have met (Japanese that is), but I would venture to say this won’t change too much. Being introverted myself, it’s easy to see in others when I am approaching that point they don’t want to cross. And while I’m usually content with the acquaintance type relationship, I’ve come to realize that making any kind of lasting impact on someone isn’t going to happen through that kind of guarded, almost insincere interaction. Even a brief conversation I had with the university chaplain ended with an awkward, swift subject change on his part when things got even a little personal and religious.
While this is comfortable (for me anyway), I know we are called to go outside of our comfort zone. It would suck to come 7000 miles just to find another bubble to hide in.