Having arrived to America exactly one week ago, I feel quite settled now, but there is definitely a lot I have to say about my summer experience in Japan.
My flight was scheduled to depart the Osaka Itami Airport at 8am Friday morning. In preparation for this I started meeting with my friends to enjoy a last meal together for the summer. The week before my departure I had dinner with Zhang-San, a pleasant dinner in which we discussed many great things about our lives, the future, entrepreneurship, etc. I was very happy and excited, yet sad simultaneously. As I listened to Zhang-San talking about his plans and experiences, and I responded positively, amazed by all the great things we talked about and planned, I had a feeling of helplessness. I wanted to stay in this place, yet I had to return. I also wanted to be back in America with my friends, I missed them terribly.
I did not say “Goodbye” at the end, but rather “Mata ne!”, “we’ll meet again!” I returned home that Sunday night with a lot of mixed emotions about leaving Japan. This would be something that would continue to intensify as the week approached an end.
That Friday I met with Meru-San for the last time this summer. It was then that it started to hit me, there would not be another epic adventure to visit some random place in Japan anytime soon. There would be no more jumping pictures in front of interesting buildings. There would be no more waking up at 6am to meet with other yawning friends excited to go and run, jump, walk, eat all around Japan for the weekend and then try to recover during the week without falling asleep at work. Those days were coming to an end for the summer, and I was to miss them.
Saturday I visited my friend Masato-San in Tokyo. I can’t begin to describe how it felt to spend these two days with him. I was able to experience a Japanese “riot”, or rather people yelling on the streets at each other because of a controversy over the Yasukuni Shrine. As everything in Japan, it was shocking for me to see the way people behaved and the conflict developed. It was the most peaceful encounter I could have imagined.
That weekend I was also able to meet a few great people in Tokyo, and I realized that yes, there are very nice people all around Japan. Masato-San and I joined a few of his friends for dinner, and it was very comforting to talk to them. They were all so nice and friendly; I still can’t get over it. So much niceness!
Although we joined Masato-San’s friends during their dinner, we didn’t dine with them, but rather went to have sushi at a place nearby — real sushi. And my god that was delicious. I had many different kinds of sushi, and also tempura, and it was just fantastic. After sushi we walked around Ebisu, which is where Masato-San lives — it’s a very nice area.
I stayed over at his place, and the next day we talked and stayed at his apartment until it was time for me to go meet Tamaki-San, with whom I spent a lovely afternoon. After walking around and having a nice time with Tamaki-San, I returned to Osaka in the Shinkansen, and with this I finally got in the mindset of departing Japan… it was my last week in Osaka for the summer.
My last week went by real fast. Tuesday I met with Koji-San, a very special and smart kid whom I’m looking forward to meeting with again and working with in the future. He really treated me and Meru-San as friends and made us feel very welcome in Japan. We met on multiple occasions to get lunch and dinner; traveled together a few times during the weekends, and always had a great time. And by god we ate so many parfaits, which probably kept me from losing more weight than I did. Koji-San really made my Japan experience unforgettable and unique. His humble and energetic spirit struck me, and I definitely learned a lot just by spending time with him and Meru-San. Oh we did make a very nice & dynamic trio.
I went back home, finished packing, and the next day simply returned a few things, cleaned up my apartment, and then finally departed Japan… On my way to the airport I was thrilled and saddened. I was looking forward to meeting my old-friends, but I couldn’t help feeling sad leaving such a magnificent place, full of wonderful people.
As I heard the train announcement in Japanese… “Next is Osaka Airport…” all the images about my summer experiences were flashing through my mind. I relived the moment when I first landed in Japan, going through immigration and trying to put my 2 years of Japanese education into good use. Arriving at Osaka for the first time, seeing my apartment, my first experience in an internet café, the ramen shop near my apartment in which I would have many bowls of ramen throughout the summer. I remembered meeting with Meru-San, Kim-San, Green-San, Nix-San, Lee-San, etc, for the first time. Also making new friends, Koji-San and Naoki-San, Zhang-San and Tamaki-San, my labmates, and many more.
I stumbled as I got off the train, and with a tear in my eye I turned around and said to Japan, mata ne~ Okay, I may be exaggerating, I did not have a tear in my eye, but I sure felt like I did.
(There is another post coming soon, cause this doesn’t even start to express how I felt coming back to America, and this is already long enough for now…)