"Arigato gozaimasu" ("thank you very much"). This was probably the most-used phrase during the entirety of our Japan trip, and also happens to be the phrase that embodies the idea to which I believe any great personality and mindset would be centered around -- the showing of thanks and appreciation towards others. This Japan trip not only allowed me to realize just how big our world is (and how little of it I have seen), but also that the universal language, comprised of kindness and thankfulness, was enough to break the imminent language barrier that we faced during our whole trip, for none of us knew how to speak Japanese. Yes, maybe the fact that I had been reading "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho during the downtime moments (plane, metro, and bullet train "shinkansen" rides, etc.) of our trip played a role in me being more open to discovering this supposed universal language, but I firmly believe that smiles and positive interactions from anyone and everyone can go a longer way than we'd normally expect.
One thing that I was able to take from Japan was how clean the country was. Tokyo, for starters, was ridiculous. It's no joke when people say that it's the cleanest city, among major cities, in the world. When you take pollution and size ratios into consideration with all of the world's major cities, it's no surprise that Tokyo takes the cake. I honestly don't know what they do, or how they do it, to keep the city so clean... But whatever it is, it's definitely working! The people were also extremely friendly, as well. Everyone there was courteous and respectful, despite us not really being able to respectively understand each others' words.
Japan undeniably humbled me in many ways, but the most prime way that I feel it humbled me was reminding me about how it's okay to make mistakes. Being the person I am, I'm not the biggest fan of making mistakes, but after taking all of those incorrect turns during navigation, getting off at the wrong train stops, and making inaccurate time calculations that would cause us to stray away from our planned itinerary, it was apparent that Japan was trying to teach me something. Mistakes are a part of who we are, as people, and are definitely a big part of vacations or any normal outing in general. They're what remind us that we are human, and they're the kind of things make us feel alive -- and I'm a big fan of anyone or anything that makes me feel alive.
Travel often, for it will humble you in ways unimaginable. When you spend that hefty amount of cash for a plane ticket and place to stay, you don't only pay for the air travel from point A to B, ultimately back to A. You also pay for the unknown experiences and life-lessons that await you, allowing the ends to justify the means.
Check out more of my personal work at - www.eluisphoto.com