Ever since I was a little girl I thought it was interesting to look at maps and which countries and places there all are. My mother gave me a luxurious version of a world atlas, which is bigger than a normal atlas and doesn’t really fit into a bookcase because of that. I looked through this atlas a lot.
The luxurious Two-In-One World Atlas has continents spread out over various pages, which showed more details. Aside from that, it contains satellite images of the world, so you can compare. Additionally, I also own a globe and turned it often enough to see which country I wanted to have more information from, travelling to other countries was not something normal for the family I was in. We didn’t go on vacation very often, and if we went on vacation, after all, we stayed in The Netherlands. And that’s not so bad, because The Netherlands has enough beautiful places, think about the nature reserves where you can find your inner peace. But for me the travelling to other countries was always on my mind, and this was feeding the interest to know more about these countries.
But how did I end up at Japan?
I sometimes watched the travel shows on TV out of pure interest. It’s very inspiring to see what you can all find in this world, but when I saw Floortje Dessing in the program Yorin Travel wander around in the streets and nature of Japan I was sold! To see the differences between Tokyo and Kyoto instantly amazed me, and I wanted to know more about it and eventually see it with my own eyes!
Traveling to Japan was quite a big step for me. I gathered information about travelling to Japan and ended up at group travels, because I didn’t really feel confident to go alone. Those group travels seemed interesting to me for various reasons: you’re travelling with a guide and you receive the information you’d like to know about the places you visit, you get to meet new people. Still, these group travels seemed rushed and rather short. The price was the thing that stopped me, but I had an indication of how much I had to save up so I could easily go to Japan.
During that time I got access to the internet and discovered various other things that had a connection to Japan. I was watching anime series like Dragon Ball Z, Pokémon and Gundam Wing for a while. All of which were series that were on TV during that time. At first, I didn’t know that these series originated in the Land of the Rising Sun. Once I made this discovery I came in contact with various people with an interest in anime through the internet.
They became my internet friends and suggested me titles of anime and mangas which they liked. During that time I also got a better connection and was able to look up more things, as before I was rather dependent of the dial-up connection and the books in the library to learn more about the country of Japan. Modern Japan interested me and drew me deeper and deeper into the country. Because History was my favourite subject in school Japan couldn’t escape the urge to get to know more about the history of this country.
I also wanted to learn the language, and to start with that I started looking for a penpal. Quite ambitious, because my first Japanese penpal, a student in Tokyo, wrote to me in English.
Music from Japan
In the meantime, I continued watching anime and I got in touch with people who introduced me to anime soundtracks. The soundtrack that belonged to the anime Cowboy Bebop was something I could not appreciate during that time, because I had not seen the anime. It took a few years before I rediscovered the Japanese music in my own way. I came across Maximum The Hormone and HEAD PHONES PRESIDENT: loud music from Japan became my new interest.
The internet was the option to learn more and more about Japan, and this way I came across various websites of various Japanese artists who released new music. Even though it was pretty sparse here and there, I got to know more and more music in genres from rock to metal and cyber to pop. I started eating music, like it was some kind of cake, and wanted to discover more and more. It is thanks to the internet that I started my own forum to share various information and gain more information. Some members of the forum had knowledge about certain subjects that they liked to share, and I gladly took that information. Eventually, my interest in Japan got a little out of hand and nowadays I speak about a passion.
Francisca from AVO
That’s not so strange, because after starting a forum I got the idea to start a blog a few years later, and by pure coincidence, I landed into the world of organizing concerts. I frequently visit concerts of Japanese acts nowadays to photograph and write reports, but I also go to other Japan-related events and conventions. Sometimes I have a stand to promote AVO, but more often you’ll find me walking around there with my camera and notepad. People know me as Francisca from AVO nowadays, even though that will probably have to do with the fact that I wear my black [AVO] button with pride during these kinds of events.
In the meantime, I have followed a few years of Japanese classes at the Volksuniversiteit in The Hague, and even though I am rather insecure about my pronunciation of Japanese, I start to understand the language more and more. My mission is to become better at the Japanese language, even though it will be slowed down due to the busy time I find myself in thanks to AVO, will be step by step. But it would be cool if my communication with the ones I work with will be easier because of my knowledge of Japanese.
My interest in Japan is, like you can read, not a phase, but clearly a passion. That’s also noticeable by the fact that I can’t wait to get back to Japan after my trip last year. And thanks to all the new challenges that came on my path my passion for Japan has only grown bigger. I’m curious about what will find it’s way to my path in the next years!