Hello everyone. As I type it’s just turned midnight. In the video linked above, I’m wearing my Keisuke Honda jersey. Honda was Japan’s most recognizable football star, he competed in 3 Fifa World Cups as a matter of fact. But after this final one, he announced his retirement, and it is now the end of an era. Similarly, the sun has set on my time in Japan. It is officially my final day in Kyoto. Looking back, this trip was packed with many new experiences- some bad, most good. It was a very challenging experience. I feel that I have become less shy about using Japanese, though I’m still a beginner. Japanese is part of my educational plan, so I should know even more by the time I get back. I can’t wait to have better communication with others. I’m also more willing to try new foods. Yesterday I had kimchi for the first time. I know its a Korean food rather than Japanese, but still, I don’t think I would have been willing to try it before this trip. I do miss my pinto beans, but I felt no need to import them this time. Instead, I’m bringing back some recipes with me that I picked up from my time here.
Looking back, I think my favorite day was the day of the Tea Ceremony. Being able to learn about such an important cultural tradition really helped me bond to the country I love. I want to discover the ‘tea ceremonies’ of other cultures, I want to feel that deep connection with every country I’m lucky enough to visit. I also really appreciate how I’ve learned to ride the bus. It seems like such a simple thing, just get on in the back and pay at the end, but it paralyzed me last time. And an entire method of transportation was closed off to me as a result. I’m eager to travel back here with others, so I can teach them the secret too.
This experience was very different than how I imagined it would be. In many ways I disregarded the group aspect, and because of that I had no choice but to be a tourist at times. But it was during those times that I learned about the historical significance of the places I was visiting. My knowledge of this country is much richer now, and for that I’m thankful.
I’m going to take this experience, and continually refer back to it as I finish up my first degree. Do I still plan on living in Japan? The short answer is yes, I do still want to live here. The kimono incident really threw me off. And even though in the video I seemed determined not to let it get me down, that was after I’d had time to process it. The truth is, that hurt deeply. But a few days later, a cashier excitedly told me she spoke a little English. I replied back that that was funny, because I spoke a little Japanese. And after the resulting mixed language conversation, I smiled for the first time in a while. No, Japan isn’t a perfect country, no country is. But it is a great one, and I love it here.
Time will tell if I return during or after my schooling, but as I look towards leaving, I admit I’m only slightly sad. After all, I’ll be back again soon. And until that time comes…. Sayonara!