Inter – Generational

August 8, 2014 in Arts & Travel

Nina Pirola
N-Travel3Ever since I was young, seeing my grandparents was a real treat. They live in Japan and we live in Australia so visits were seemingly rare and treasured by both sides. Sometimes they would come during early January to experience the Australian summer and escape from the icy cold winter. Other times my parents and my sisters and I would board a 10 hour flight and visit their country house in the middle of the mountains (think Totoro – the Ghibli Film).

During those visits we slept on futons (Japanese mattress) and on colder mornings, warmed up by the kotatsu (heated table). We ate our favourite homemade mochi (a rice-based snack) and caught grasshoppers.

The longest we ever went for was four weeks and I remember always feeling that it wasn’t quite long enough. It seemed that just as I was getting used to speaking in Japanese we were due home and so, last year, I decided that I’d like to stay with them for longer. Before I knew it, I’d arranged to live with them for four months from April this year to late July.

I learnt many things during my stay there; amongst them that living in the middle of mountains is one way to be overwhelmed by the beauty of nature. I learnt about cultural values and different ways of communicating. I also learnt that even four months can feel like a short period of time!

N-Travel1The most precious aspect of living there, to me, was being able to spend time with my grandparents and learning more about my heritage and ancestry. My great-grandfather built our house and I discovered that the room I stayed in used to be used for silk-worms. A short walk on a narrow mountain trail from our house takes us to where my ancestors graves are and we often payed our respects and left incense and flowers. The area has generations of interwoven history and being able to, even for a short period, immerse myself in it was a really eye-opening experience.


The future is like a misty mountain trail; you can’t see far ahead but with every step forward, things change and perhaps will become slightly more distinguishable. I have learnt that sometimes we wander off the path and this in turn, changes our destinations. Certainly by making the decision to live in Japan for four months I experienced the curious feeling of wandering off the path. It put me in situations I found were slightly out of my comfort zone but by doing so I was opening my arms to the possibilities of the unknown. I met people in unexpected places and embraced the opportunity to get lost on an adventure.

More photos of my wanderings can be found at: