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Flying Home August 5, 2008

Posted by Mitch in General.

I’ve been at my keyboard for some moments now and the words are yet to flow. My time in Japan is over. Today is the last day of my contract and tomorrow I will board a plane back to England. This time last year, I was arriving in Tokyo for the Orientation Programme and now, with what feels like much less than a year behind me, I am saying goodbye to the country that has housed me.

It’s easy to get maudlin and reflect on how brilliant it’s been at times like this. My life is once again condensed into 3 bags and I find myself once again jobless and homeless. But Japan hasn’t been a walk in the park. It’s been harder than I thought it would at times, but much easier than I expected at others. It’s made me feel frustrated and impotent as there were many opportunities where hands were tied by etiquette or serf-like worship of occupational superiority. When I first arrived in Kuga, I cried and told myself that within two months I would be home. Add 10 to that and that is where we find ourselves today. Has it made me a better person? Maybe. Am I glad I stuck it out? Yes, indeed.

But life moves on. I’m writing this at just gone 7am, me not being able to sleep thanks to the copious amounts of adrenaline being shit through my system. This morning I will say goodbye to Brooke and Wakabayashi and board a train for Tokyo. The prospect of finishing packing with my bags as full as they already are is enough to keep anyone awake.

On Sunday, I joined Martin, my English teacher and his family for karaoke. His two daughters are in classes of mine at my favourite elementary school and so they both know me. Karaoke was fun, especially as there were lots of children’s songs being sung and I got to see the weird animation with which they entertain their kids here. Afterwards, we all went for sushi and I wasn’t allowed to pay for my share, rather directed to donate a pittance just for show. So an afternoon in good company with good food and entertainment cost me the equivalent of a fiver. A far reach from Gaz’s karaoke place in London where one is charged £65/hr for the use of a room, drinks on top of that.

Yesterday, having attended the official goodbye meeting with the Head of the Iwakuni Board of Education, I went into Kuga Chugakko one last time to see the teachers. It being the school holidays, not many were in, but I got to see a few. The school nurse sought me out to give me a present which lies still wrapped on my desk. The thing is, it’s a very small package and I want it to stay that way for the time being for packing purposes! What struck me most about this is that I’ve swapped very few words with the woman and yet she saw it fit to buy me a parting gift. Martin gave me letters from his two little girls that included photos of them for posterity. As I left school and made my way for the last time through the tennis courts, I was set upon my the boys tennis club, who always saw me off after every day at Junior High. It kind of made it real that it was over.

The thing is, I’m not sad. I know that to stay another year would be a huge mistake. But I also know that the idea of ‘the future’ is scary and unknown. I relish the challenge however, and hope that this year abroad has helped expand my horizons. Who knows what it will bring…


1. gareth - August 5, 2008

rub it in why don’t you! You are coming to karaoke whether it’s expensive or not! have a good flight home and welcome back to the UK, let the countdown to L5Y commence!!!!!!

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