I officially finished my semester after enduring a two-week of final exam roller-coaster ride, which marked another step of my academic journey. Sometimes I feel sad and anxious and insecure about it because many of my friends are going to finish college this year, but most of the time I’m not. Moving to Japan was the hardest, but then again I think the best decision that I made, or God has just turned it that way. What I’d really like to point out is my life in here has been full of surprises and experience that I never thought of before. I think I will have a whole note about studying abroad in a different post. Here I’m just going to list all memorable places and things I did during 2016.
Hokkaido Trip with Mom
This was my first only-mom-and-me quality trip with my mom. The problem is we bicker a lot when we’re together, about a lot of stuffs and in a lot of ways. Most of the time there must be my second brother which takes side but this time it was only the two of us. The thing is that, like what my father always says, we bicker when we’re together but missed each other when we’re away.
So she visited me for about two weeks on February. It was funny because at that time she just quit her life-time job so she has nothing to do but to visit her daughter, and plus a little vacation. She booked our tickets and Airbnb for Sapporo and also Tokyo because we need to attend my friend’s wedding at Tokyo.
I honestly forgot a lot of stuffs about Sapporo except its snow and the fact that it was such a metropolitan city with many tall buildings. I always had a New Zealand-ish farms and cows and horses image of Hokkaido, not a big city at the very first thought. So, Surprise! But still, it was so beautiful and romantic because of its snow. The best three things about Hokkaido are : Snow, Shiroi Koibito Chocolate Milk, Otaru. Otaru is indeed a touristy but still underrated place that anyone who loves the mix of snow sky and sea needs to visit. I think I’m going to visit Hokkaido again for sure, especially Biei and the lavender farm on another season.
When I think about it again, this trip was very precious to me because I came to a realization that I’m starting to be an adult, too. In all of our previous family vacation, I always relied on my mother on almost everything. That also happened to my actual life. The fact that I was not living in the same roof with my mom does not mean I was being independent, not even near there. I kind of flustered because this time my mom was the one whom relying on me. I kind of led the trip; where to go, where to eat, which road we should take, et cetera. I was in surprise because she started to ask me opinions on important family matters, like, wow my opinion does counts. And about her problems, too. It’s kind of interesting and surely different because this time I tried to console her, in a serious context, while before I was the one who always need a help. We are very close but after this trip I feel sort of different kind of close. My explanation may unclear to take this premise, but I also begin to realize that now my parents, brothers, and family are my responsibility too.
Setouchi Art Triennale 2016
Setouchi Triannale art festival is on top of my most eye-opening, fun, and incredible lis of things happened in 2016. I went there for three days with Kak Dea and Ryoko. I first knew it from Ryoko, my very lovely classmateーa ball of sunshine, after I posted my photo at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s not very hard to find people with an interest in art here in Japan. Exhibitions are held every week at museums, art centers, exhibition halls which I think made cities more lively. I also grew more interest in art after I went to Monet’s exhibition with my Japanese teacher and attending art course at college. I learned that art is more than something that is pleasing for eyes but somehow it sends essential and meaningful messages, even it can be a form of political movement (I once had a guest lecture from Cai Guoqiang).
Like I said before, it’s not very hard to find people with interest in art here, in a sense we can talk about Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo for hours which is a surprise to me. I myself just started reading about art in here while most of Japanese and Chinese friends can tell directly when I had my Monet’s soleil levant clear holder with me. There was this time I brought this art thingy into a conversation with my friend whom a half Indonesian and half Finnish. Grew up in Jakarta, she never had any experience learning about art history at school and her Finnish dad was in shock so he gave her a world’s art history encyclopedia afterwards. The output of learning art history, or art in general, or even just enjoying art may not be something that can solve our everyday life problem like maths or science or economics but it can fill empty spaces in between, making us more sensible. Once, my friend Tanya who likes paintings and loves to paint told me she didn’t like impressionist’s work at first, but then she start to like it because “We can learn to see the world with the painter’s perspective.”
Setouchi Art festival itself sends a very meaningful purpose. The Seto inland sea islands, start to lose its vitality because the aging population problem. So some art enthusiasts, including architects, started to create a lot of things inside the islands and then create this art festival once every three years to gain more visitors to these islands. From my readings, the result was quite remarkable because a hospital and a kindergarten open again in one of the islands because some families start to move to the islands.
We three went island-hopping for three days. At the very first day, we went to Sodoshima, a rural islands where I saw more birds than people. We agreed that we had different way on experiencing art after we went to “Voyage Through The Void” where we had to lie on a boat made of illuminating fibers inside a dark room with a sea sound. The illuminating color changes following sea sound and the artist asked us to contemplate life while lying on it. I had no photos or videos taken since it was restricted.
At the second day we went to the utterly famous Naoshima Island, the most visited island among Seotouchi inland islands. The highlight was maybe Chichu Art Museum by Tadao Ando. I never knew why he was very famous for only concrete houses buildings but I had to admit that I was wrong back then after I visited Chichu. His geometric and lightning play is beyond genius. There was also this big white room filled with Monet’s painting with marble tiles in which we needed to take off our shoes; little did we know each marble was put there one by one, by hands. I think this is a must visit for every architecture enthusiast because we cannot take any photo inside.
At the last day, we finally went to Teshima Island. This island’s soil used to be contaminated because one irresponsible company. After years the government and the islanders made some effort to “fix” its soil, they also start building an art museum and art space called Teshima Art Museum. The art space itself was very mind-blowing, water droplet trickles one by one from the ground. I cannot express the rest but you can read it from here, hehe. We rode a bike uphill to reach the museum in the middle of summer, it was very tiring but the view was worth the ride. On the afternoon, we ate at the Museum’s cafe and talked about how we are very grateful that we actually did this trip because we may not came across another Triennale; Kak Dea was going to graduated that year, and 2019 will be My and Ryoko’s graduation year and we were thankful that the trip was very insightful.
2015 was downright amazing and amusing for me but 2016 unexpectedly granted me awesome journeys that I have never thought of before. One thing that I need to say why I am forever thankful for my decision by moving abroad; how good life is without much certainty, and how life in here gave me a whole different level of surprises and experience. I think I said this around hundred times but I learned so much and a lot from every trip I had and I hope it will always be. So try me, 2017! I’m ready.