Welcome to Japan!
I think it could be useful to tell you a little bit about me and my story so far. My name is Marianna, and I am an anthropologist. A very ambitious (and quite incorrect) definition to say that anthropology is what I want to do when I grow up. A more modest definition would be that of researcher, and an even more honest one would be that of fanatic. I am a Japan nuts, of course.
What’s my story
My love for Japan started, as for many of my generation, when I first discovered anime and manga. Since then, two decades had passed. Those compelling adventures became the doorway to a reach, amazing world I could only love.
My passion needed an outlet; so I enrolled at my city university looking for a degree that could help me deepen my knowledge of that wonderland. I got a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a Master degree in Science of Religion.
Meantime, in 2008 I visited Japan for the first time. Our love story began here. This was the moment in which I felt that everything I studied about Japan was only the surface of the magic it held for me. It was a trauma, a deep feeling of belonging, and at the same time an underlying sense of nostalgia. The emotion you experience when you arrive back home after a long journey. Illogical, right?
Yet, all those feeling stayed with me, and encouraged me to pursue an amazing (and confusing) path; that of PhD in Paris, to deepen further my comprehension of Japan and its wonders. It wa also the way to go back to Japan, return that happened in 2012, and that allowed me to stay in Japan until 2014. One and a half year later, I obtained my PhD in Anthropology and Religions, and Far Eastern Studies.
Know, I feel that all the experiences I had, all the memories I treasure, and all the knowledge I acquired in these years need to be shared, to reach other people who may be looking for similar emotions, who may need to experience encounters with new eyes. That is why I used the – inappropriate – word “anthropologist”, though it can seems a little pretentious.
But the use of the word anthropologist helps me stating my personal disposition in the moment of the travel. I am not an adventurer, not a turist, not a reporter. To me anthropology implies a commitment and a duty toward the world in which I arrive. A duty of honesty and care while handling a new world which is never easy to face. As much as we study and prepare ourselves to the journey, reality will always be something more. Anthropology is a leap of faith: we arrive on the field believing we know everything, and in a moment we find ourselves deprived of every certainty. In this sense, the anthropologist needs to keep the faith that this disorientation will be the very key for the access to a deeper understanding of the world in which he or she has been hurled.
Anthropology is also the acceptance of the solitude. It is a solitude often cherished and longed for, but sometimes also endured. It is the feeling of being like a flying fish in a place we though we had in the palm of our hands, because understanding does not come merely from the books. It is mainly achieved through the glances, the landscapes, the smells and the alien sounds of a distant language.
The journey I would like to tell you is not an adventure, nor an easy tourism. It is a journey about love and struggle. And now it is a deep, heart wrenching nostalgia for a place that I can’t wait to meet again.
This journey is a universe of distant and intimate meanings and visions. It is the deepest part of me, and I hope it will raise your interest and emotions in you too.
Here you will find my Academia profile, with some of my academic articles.