Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Last day in Japan...

Ah, my last day in Japan... grey and rainy... all of my goodbyes have been said... and between finishing up my own packing and helping Tommy with his.... I am sitting down to (self indulgently) reflect a little... knowing that I will absolutely hit the ground running when I get back to MA and will want to look forward, not back.

Off the top of my head... in no particular order... I want to always fondly remember...

  • Azabu-Juban - our neighborhood 
  • absolutely no Saturday household chores (small apartment living has its perks!)
  • the best strawberries, apples, cucumbers, yogurt, etc. etc.
  • Cleanest, quietest, safest city ever!
  • Fabulous public transportation... an unparalleled subway system ... Chi bus... taxis... 
  • and... generous friends who have also driven us hither and thither
  • a simpler life (walking to get just a few groceries at a time; no dishwasher; relatively few possessions)
  • sashiko lessons at Blue and White
  • ASIJ Gala quilt group
  • Tokyo International Quilt Festival
  • Nippori (fabric district)
  • Yuzawaya
  • Tokyu Hands for office supplies (swoon!) - Frixion pens, anyone?
  • French bakeries at every turn - oh how I will miss you, Mont Thabor!
  • convenience stores too!
  • Fast, dear dear friends and many great buddies - fellow expats, great gals!  Memories to last a lifetime of lunches and outings, talks and laughs, adventures, service, and fun.  Too many sayonara parties though!
  • company from the U.S. - loved that!
  • Making onigiri for the homeless at Franciscan Chapel
  • subbing in fourth grade at ASIJ - a delight!
  • Fukagawa High School 
  • living walking distance from our church and Temple 
  • Complete freedom for my teens to safely travel independently anywhere in Tokyo
  • Miss K's senior year, and Tommy's 8th-9th grades at ASIJ - amazing respect between students and teachers, students so well engaged, just an excellent school. 
  • Allan West's studio
  • Kappabashi (kitchen district!)
  • Indian food... Thai food... Chinese food... Singapore chicken... Harajuku Gyoza... Yakiniku, Pizza Strada and Friholes in the Juban... 
  • Wonderful Japanese ladies who have helped me at least scratch the surface of Japanese culture!
  • family trips to Matsumoto, Kyoto and Hiroshima
  • the emphasis on seasonality here - really appreciating and acknowledging the seasons
  • wonderful customer service, such attention to detail!
I will not miss: 
  • being functionally illiterate at best!
  • the 3-4 hours it took to complete each load of laundry in our tiny washer and dryer
  • the view from our third floor apartment (think power lines, cars, beige concrete apartment buildings) 
  • often feeling like a bull in a china shop 
  • being so far away from loved ones in the U.S. - especially my daughters
  • iffy healthcare 
  • crowded rush hour trains!
  • vague "what if?" worries about a big earthquake
  • sheer exhaustion after a day of errands or just trying to get one complicated thing done. 
  • heat and humidity
  • often just hopelessly not really understanding "the system"
We arrived here to stay one school year, and ended up extending for a year - and it has been a wonderful experience for our family.  There are challenges waiting for me at home, but I am ready to be there... And yet I will dearly miss Japan.  I know that Tommy and I are in for some wicked reverse culture shock.  I don't think David will feel it as much - he's really ready to return to the U.S.  :)

No I haven't cried yet - I'm sure the tears will come and when they do, I hope I'm not in line at customs or something!