So this is going to be a long post with a lot of text and not any pictures. Please bear with me.
Dear Japan, it is time for me to say goodbye. Maybe you aren’t having as much trouble with my departure as I am, but if you are I’d like to share this little poem with you:
Goodbyes are not forever.
Goodbyes are not the end.
They simply mean, "I'll miss you,
... Until we meet again!"
And truly, this is exactly what my goodbye means. It means that I will miss this place and the people and the food and the sights and sounds and smells and ups and downs. I will miss everything that is Japan. BUT I plan to be back, so don’t mourn me while I am gone! Go, have fun, enjoy, and some day I will be back to join you again. (I think I’m trying to convince myself that it’s going to be okay also…)
Living in another country is a big experience! And a very good one as well. Everyone should experience it once in their life and if you can’t make the move, at least make an effort to travel!
You all know by now about my passion for other cultures (I hope) and it is something I plan to share with everyone I know and meet. And I am about to tell you why I think getting to know another culture and becoming a part of it is so important.
No matter what culture you are becoming accustomed to, you will learn things. You will learn how to shop in a different grocery store, buy food in possibly another language, get from place to place, and more. But most importantly, whenever living within other cultures it is very apparent that while we have our differences, we are all just people. There are good people, bad people, funny, smart, etc. There are people with many different skin tones, hair colors, eye colors, appearances. There are people with different voices and different languages. But in the end, we are all just people. We hang out with our friends, we go to work, we want good lives, etc. The only difference between most of my readers (and myself) and my coworkers is what language we look up our cat videos in!
This realization of sameness began for me while I was in Korea and fully settled in while I have been in Japan. It’s funny how long it took me to realize this, but I’m glad I did now. Because now I have that knowledge to look through whenever I meet someone who looks, acts, or thinks a little bit differently from me. And I will know how to treat them and make them feel welcome and to help them realize that they are part of this big family made up of the human race.
As the Black-Eyed Peas have said “We are one tribe, one people.”
And now… There are many thanks to be in order. So without further ado, here we go! (if I forgot anything or anyone I’m SORRY!!)
To Japan Camera Hunter: Thank you for giving me the resources to find new camera lenses. I am still somewhat new to the DSLR world and your advice on places to visit in Tokyo got me quite a steal deal, well below my budget, on a new lens so I ended up buying two! I could not have done it without you.
To Tokyo Cheapo: Thank you for your いっぱい quantity of articles on good places to visit in Tokyo. From well-priced sushi to the Sengakuji where the 47 Ronin are buried and everything in between. You led me to the shop where I bought not only one but two kimono. Thank you for that, you guys rock and keep doing what you do!
To Rohan at Around Tokyo: Your blog is beautiful and some of your posts make me really wish I had found you sooner... like before specific flower seasons had ended, but I learned my lesson and have returned to your archives to find events I can go to. Great job on your blog and keep it up! I will definitely keep following it!
To Inside Kyoto and Happy Travelling Kyoto: Thank you for giving me new ideas on places to go in Kyoto, cool places to eat, good descriptions of how to get around, and wonderfully descriptive blurbs about attractions in the city!
To Gary J Wolff and his "Climbing Mt. Fuji FAQs": Thank you SO SO SO much for your amazing compilation of information about climbing Mt. Fuji. I don't even know how many times I came back to your site to check things and plan my trip. My friends and I made it and we had a blast in the process. Without your information, our trip would not have been as much of a success.
To Namiko Chen: Your blog was SO beneficial to my diet. I was extremely excited to find your blog and I can't wait to share the things I have learned from you with the people back home and to try even more new recipes. Thank you so much! You are such a blessing!
And now to the people who I can't link you to!
To the staff at Incul: you made my schooling so much fun! Learning a second language isn't an easy task and teaching it is even harder. Thank you for being friendly, understanding, and all around great!
To my やっぱり Goofballs ／ 日本ギャング／ 輝かしいにっぽん: Thank you for being my friends, for understanding my struggles, for hanging out, and for being my easy to chat with in English awesome people. Let's be honest, we probably would have gone crazy without each other. I could say so much more but I think for the sake of the keyboard I will stop here.
To my conversation partner Yuta: I know that we didn't do a lot of exchanging of language and for that I am sorry, but thanks for letting me show you around the other side of Tokyo! I'm glad I had someone to share the adventures with!
To all other conversation partners I had: Thank you so much for putting up with my slow, stuttering attempts at Japanese and helping me to feel a slight bit more confident about using the language every time. I'm not there yet, but when I am it will be thanks to all of you!! And thank you also for putting for the effort to learn my language as well so that we could share the burden of language learning together!
To the girls at work: I know that I wasn't the most stimulating person in the lunch room conversation, but thank you for bearing with me, trying to involve me, and listening to my awful attempts at Japanese!
To Emerson Japan: Thank you so much for the opportunity to not only come to Japan, but to work here for an extended time and to learn so much about your company and the inner-workings of relationships between countries and companies in East and South East Asia.
To UC International: Thank you for your support with all the paperwork required across various departments at UC and more importantly for the grant that funded my language studies here in Japan.
It's been real. It's been fun. It has been REAL FUN. But unfortunately I must now go.
Until next time my dear friend,