A Wish Come True [JAPAN]

Laia Teboul

RINGGG… The paper wind chimes make a sound each time someone steps through the ornately decorated door. As a customer walks in, they are greeted by an array of welcoming sayings by the staff. "Irasshaimase!" can be heard from every corner of the store. I glance around the ramen shop, spotting hints of the unique, traditional Japanese culture all around me. Refined, playful and yet meaningful, this culture is present in small details, and even the simplest of objects. Looking at the counter where the ramen is made, I can see several "daruma"––small, round statues with faces, painted in bright red and gold pigments––which start out with just a single eye. When you buy a daruma, you make a wish and only once the wish has come true, can you draw the other eye. Gazing around the inside of the shop, I can see wishes that have been accomplished, as well as a few that are still in progress.  
I have a daruma at home that is yet to be completed. My wish is that I will be able to become the best version of myself, so that I could complete each day to my full potential. A time to grow, and realize that life is a beautiful thing, in order for me to appreciate even the simplest of details.
Fascinated, I realize that it is as if every single detail in this building has a purpose. Memories of Japan’s past, full of bright culture. The light breeze that enters through the window signifies spring’s arrival. Spring is a time that blossoms with new beginnings. All around Japan, the streets are lined with a carpet of light pink, the sakura trees swaying in the wind. In Japan, everything starts in spring, including graduation, as well as the beginning of school years. I can barely see the Ohanami: soft peach lights that illuminate the sakura blossoms at night. The gleaming lights can just be seen behind the shoji, paper sliding doors that shield the warm restaurant from the fresh spring evening. 
Lost in my thoughts, I am taken back to reality as my ramen arrives. "Arigatou gozaimasu," I reply as I am given the dish by gentle hands. Each element of the ramen reminds me of spring in Japan. The noodles themselves take years of expertise and knowledge to make. So many different techniques are used just to obtain a single element of the dish. Just like spring, they are full of culture, and tradition. Knowledge passed on from one generation to the next. Each stroke that I make with the slender chopsticks in the steaming hot soup reminds me of where I am. I look at my bowl, the pork, smoked egg, nori seaweed, and spinach floating around. As well as this, there is the kamaboko. A small type of seafood cut out into the shape of a flower with bright pink details. As I stare at it, I can’t help but think of the beautiful sakura blossom outside.
Soon, I finish my ramen. Before exiting the small store, I thank the owner. Once again, I receive a wave of thankfulness from the staff and am ready to go home. A part of me does not want to leave, as there is a feeling of peacefulness: the same that can be found in a part of spring in Japan.
Leaving my bowl behind neatly on the smooth table, I open the wooden door carved with intricate flowers. In front of me is the night sky, illuminated with the outlines of countless buildings and festive lights that stretch into the horizon. Screens of bright, neon lights shine all around. 
I am standing and enlightened by the rushing lights. There are sounds all around me and so many different auras. Songs pass by on trucks with billboards, and shops can be spotted everywhere, ranging from small bakeries to huge department stores. There are cafes with a variety of foods, as well as small souvenir shops surrounding me. All that I can see are different hues of radiant blue, flashing yellow, and detailed billboards in bright pinks, oranges, and greens. I look back at the small ramen shop one last time and continue walking. Each direction that you turn, you can see the bustling people, even late at night. They all come from different places of the world. Some are tall, others are short. So many different backgrounds and appearances. Everyone is so different and unique, yet we are all merged together on the crossroad. The heart of Shibuya never fails to amaze me. This is the other side of Japan, a country rich in culture and technological advancement. 
I make my way in the crowd, to Shibuya crossing. As the countdown on the pedestrian traffic lights commence, I look around to 3D videos on high buildings, showing new spring drinks: "sakura flavor."  I feel so many things at once. It is as if the world is rushing around me. This time, I feel an energy, one that is upbeat, a feeling that reminds me too of spring.
When I look around me, it reminds me that Japan is full of new experiences, such as sensations that cannot be found anywhere else. I start walking into the sea of people and can’t help but smile.
Each year, everyone eagerly waits for the beautiful spring that will arrive, signifying new beginnings. Japan is a country like no other. Spring can be anything. It can be spending time with family and friends, to the amazing spring festivals, and even just a new drink. Spring signifies the old and the new, like remembrance of the past and thriving in the future. The citizens learn from their experiences: the beautiful culture and techniques passed down; however at the same time, Japan is making its way toward a future that will forever be remembered. True beauty can only be seen if you look for it. 
Now, I know that my wish really has come true. Just like others, I have been able to use spring to reflect on myself and push myself to my full potential for the rest of the year. 
Back in the ramen restaurant, the owner of the small shop lifts his gentle hands, full of expertise. It is now late, the tables are empty, and a relaxing quietness has settled over the place. He carefully picks up one of the daruma statues and draws on a delicate eye. Spring really is a time when wishes come true.
Laia Teboul is a 13-year-old from France who has lived in Japan for almost 8 years. She lives with her parents and her sister and is very thankful to be experiencing a lifestyle in such a unique country. There are so many aspects of Japan that she loves, and living abroad for this long has given her many amazing experiences. She has had the chance to visit quite a lot of countries (including Greece, Hong Kong, Bali, Singapore) and loves discovering new things. She hopes that her short fiction piece will allow you to imagine what kind of life she is living in Japan. Even though France is her home country, and the rest of her family lives there, so much of her life (such as her school, and friends) is here in Japan, and she will always remember the time that she is spending in Japan.

"Ramen Shop" by Hikosaemon is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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A magazine for teen writers—by teen writers. Under the Madness brings together student editors from across New Hampshire under the mentorship of the state poet laureate to focus on the experiences of teens from around the world. Whether you live in Berlin, NH, or Berlin, Germany—whether you wake up every day in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North or South America—we’re interested in reading you!