If you have watched the news recently you will know that from October 11th Japan is now completely open to foreigners. People from all over the world can come to Japan again and to enjoy a wonderful vacation here in your country.
Of course there are many things that we worry about. The corona virus is still a big problem and it can make people sick. Will visitors from other countries bring more corona virus? Will visitors from other countries bring bigger and more dangerous viruses? We do not know. That might happen. We could have more problems again in the future.
But for now, the Japanese government has said that it is safe enough for the doors to open and for visitors to come to Japan again. It is very interesting to think about why people come to Japan. Why is Japan so popular around the world?
If people from around the world go to my country, Canada, they might want to see some mountains. Maybe they want to go camping and experience nature. Maybe they like to see the clean lakes and rivers of Canada. Maybe they want to see the wild animals of Canada. Those things are nice. But most countries have nice nature too. You can see nice lakes and rivers and forests and animals in Japan too. Canada has a huge amount of nature, and Japan has nature too.
But people who come to Japan usually do not come to see the nature of Japan. They enjoy it, but the reason to come to Japan is usually because so many people around the world love Japanese culture. Japanese culture has many parts to it. There is Japanese history, Japanese art, Japanese food, Japanese clothing, Japanese houses and buildings, Japanese comedy, manga, and anime. There is Japanese tradition. There is Japanese language and philosophy. There are Japanese festivals and old stories. There are so many pieces and parts of Japanese culture for the world to enjoy and discover.
If I think about Canada the same way there is not so much history, not so much art, unique clothing, interesting houses or buildings, not much Canadian comedy or philosophy. Canada does not have the deep culture that Japan has. This is the truth about Canada and the truth about Japan.
Maybe you do not understand why Japan is so popular in the world. That is interesting, but it is also something you should think about. You are the next generation of Japanese culture. Everything your parents and grandparents have will come to you. That is a wonderful gift. You can explore and enjoy your own very unique and deep culture. But you will also have a very heavy responsibility too. Your job in the future is to think about how to keep the best parts of Japanese culture and tradition for the future.
As an island nation, Japan is separated from the world. There is trouble in that, but also some great benefit in that too. How will you reduce the trouble and increase the benefits of Japanese geography? How will you keep safe the history and culture of your great nation?
Right now I have many friends from around the world who are planning to come to Japan soon. They want to try your food. They want to see your parks, gardens, temples and shrines. They want to ride your trains and buses. They want to meet Japanese people and make new friends. They want to see how you live and they want to know what you think. What would you like to share or explain with people from other countries?
From my Canadian eyes I think that your country is marvelous. I’m glad to live here and I am lucky to have good friends here at Otemae. I hope that you will be glad and know you are lucky too. The age of corona is over for now and the world is becoming smaller. Change is part of nature and we must be comfortable in changing times. Canada and Japan will change as well.
The doors at Narita airport are open for the world. But we still must take some time and make some effort to open the doors of our hearts and minds too. There is so much to learn, and do, and to enjoy.