How did I get started loving Japan? I started learning about Japanese culture when I was in elementary school.
When I was 8 years old, I used to always check out books about Japanese culture in my school library, and I get to read the pages over and over again, learning facts about Japanese culture and the people.
Even though I know almost all the information in the books (since there were mainly three books talking about Japanese culture and Japan as a country), I kept checking them out of the library.
At that time, my mother was not really focused on me going to Japan because I was a small kid at that time, and she might predict I would outgrow it in my teenage years and think of something else.
I was 16 years old (high school junior) when I finally start learning the language by myself.
I had a classmate that was Japanese-American that helped me with the basics such as hiragana and katakana (Japanese alphabet).
Later in the school year, she tends to taunt me in Japanese because she believed that I was learning the language the wrong way (or something like that).
Then, as more of my classmates heard that I wanted to go to Japan, they started to taunt me since I was poorly prepared to start any conversation in Japanese.
At first, I felt intimidated and depressed because it made me believe my hard work was for nothing.
So, it made me motivated to study harder, be resilient to my Japanese studies, and to not be intimidated by the nay-sayers.
After high school, I had a little knowledge about the language, and I learned new things about Japanese culture.
So, I was confident that I can handle Japan for a short time (about a week or two).
However, since my mother realized I was serious about going to Japan, she worries about my safety in going to a different country.
The reason is that it was the first time that I would go to an area outside of the United States.
I told her that I was going to be safe in Japan since it's super safe and my knowledge was good enough for me to stay for a while.
However, my mom denies it and said I was too young and naive to travel the world and finance was not going well for our family.
After constantly persuading my mother to let me go to Japan, I finally reached my dream of going to Japan in January 2018 (age 20) when I went to Yokohama and Minatomirai with my father.
It was exactly how I imagined it to be, and it was a breathtaking experience for me.
However, it made me realize something when I returned to the United States.
My hometown (Baker, Louisiana), and the entire state don’t really have a strong passion for Japan and Japanese culture.
When it comes to Asian culture, Louisiana was mostly home for Vietnamese culture since the majority of Asians there are Vietnamese and there was rarely any Japanese people living in the state.
People don’t actually learn about Japanese culture except for what they saw in the media, and the media shows false facts about the culture at times.
So, a lot of people in my community was really surprised when I said I want to go to Japan one day.
The reason they were surprised is that either not many people in Louisiana are interested to go there or doesn’t have the opportunity to go because of various reasons (finance, safety, etc).
So, that's when Jay Japan was created. The reason it was Jay Japan was that Jay was my nickname my family and friends from around the world call me, and I was super passionate about Japan.
I started this business so the culture can come to the people that don’t have the money to actually travel to Japan.
The purpose of the store is to showcase anyone and everyone that is interested in Japan and Japanese culture.
From people that just got started learning about Japan to people that learned about it for almost their entire lives.
My mission is for everyone to have a nice and appropriate perspective on Japan in any way.
僕の店を来てくれてありがとうございます。また来てくれてお願いします。Thank you for coming to my shop. Please come again.