A Love Letter To Japan

February 25 2010

There are no words to express how much I’m going to miss you. Words seem inadequate when we have communicated through smiles, intuition and vague interpretation…all I can give you is an endless list of little things that over time I have come to love, that have become the fabric of my life with you…things that have formed the patchwork of amazing moments that will sustain my memories for 50 years time, things that have opened my eyes and my mind and things that when gone I will surely miss:

The mountains, sushi, hilariously bad English everywhere, being genki!, Myochans, ramen, good green tea, Annie’s floor, amazing stationary shops, Lawson, baton men and their elaborate gestures, glimpses of awesome views as I drive along unable to stop, calpis, new family, boys that hold hands and play with each others hair, long sleeved T-shirts that fit as ¾ lengths, cooking on one ring, telling kids the Queen is my Mum, futons, queuing for the train, raw horse,  being employed for my oddness, people that exude elegance, karaoke, the pleasure of saying dozo, chopstick cramp, driving in typhoons, one undeniably gorgeous person in every five, shower rooms, skiing an hour from home, getting excited when I go to a supermarket in a city, cliffs, serenading Lou, cherry blossom, Shibuya back streets, my beautiful apartment, indoor bbqs, fires to heat schools, clear blue skies and snow, lovepumper, clean malls, neon green caterpillars, meeting inspiring people, table licking, shinkansens, recycle shops, been stared at, eeeee!, singing for children on cue,  English films with Japanese sub-titles, been my own source of everything, fashion of all types, public transport that runs to the second, the lady who gives me free cake, dancing around my apartment, sashimi, Emily’s under-floor heating, good manners, amazing friends, hot coffee in a can from a vending machine, gesturing the most elaborate things, people sweeping the streets, Buddha, no-me-hoe-die, mochi, Japanese beer, phone calls with the parents, teaching over the sound of bugs, Iwaizumi beef, singing emo in the car with Emily, feeling ridiculously safe, Jeff’s mother in law’s shop, rice fields, kids unaware they have swearwords on their hats, houses jumbled together using corrugated iron and wood, the little lady who looks terrified every time I walk through the door of her café, hearing the freight trains at Annie house all night long, graceful people, how hip it is to have a flask, heated toilet seats, having time, perfect sunrises, the tiniest taco shop in the world, teachers in tracksuits and me in a suit suit, having friends that know when I need to eat, living out of my car, cheap glasses in every design possible, purikura, the Italian that makes me feel like I’m at home, cherry blossom sweets, wooden schools, being part of a community, playing soccer against 20 7yr old boys, automatically responding onegaishimasu, the English book section in the Moss building, my amazing view, getting lost up mountains in the dark with Emily, ordering food at a ticket vending machine, feeling proud, home-ec, Lake Gando, being off the beaten track,  being able to see a volcano every weekend, quiet, singing- dancing- making kids laugh, my fridge full of milk, muji, Toyoko Inn, kickass earphones, treating myself to an FBC order, bowing, giant penguin suits, trees in schools, igloos, wooden floors, no fear of being sued, style, walking through curtains to get to restaurants, afternoon chats with Jeff, the river, watching British TV  with Lyns, individuality, giant pitchforks to catch intruders, the cute Starbucks guy, mini earthquakes, making up activities based on drinking games, rapping about carrots, cabins in the woods, long ferry journeys, shrines, Lou’s killer bacon sarnies shaped like a house,  dancing for strangers, bamboo forests, Ueno market under the train tracks, rickshaw men, random characters climbing up buildings, 1hr trips to McDonalds, giant TV’s in the street, hat shops, monks chanting, Mr Donuts and their American radio, clean underpasses, hanging rice, kimonos, talking to Lou’s belly, skiing with Annie, my pimpin’ phone, getting mail from Granddad stuffed with tea bags, feeling like I live in a dream, 6yr olds beating me at table tennis, skate girls being cool, trying to eat onigiri whilst I drive, the Papas Café waitress who’s always grinning, furry bras, sunken tables, hanging your prayers under a tree, the hippie shops, going slowly crazy, awesome backpacks, the reaction I get from people when I say I live in Iwaizumi, befriending random gajin, figuring out the Tokyo subway map, ninjas, kids clapping when I arrive, the million different ways my name can be said and spelt, ordering by pointing,  hospitality, temples, tsunami escape signs, skyping my granddad, gesture, Emily’s kotasu, the sound of birds in the bathrooms, Mt Iwate, mini shinkansens that bring you sushi, magnetic blackboards, races up snow mountains, reminding people I’m not from America, Philip, figuring out the world of Japan with Caley, so much food I can’t even list it all, knowing the places BSB go to in their video ‘Bigger’, English indie nights out, waving at strangers, construction men and their sweet baggy pants,  heart to hearts, 24 hr shopping, starry nights  on my balcony, feeling alive, the village chime, sometimes being incapable of speaking English coherently, Japanese adverts, being really cold at Lou’s, Freshness burger, old ladies with big straw packs full of rice, talking to myself, meeting people who know the world, plastic food displays, old women digging up the road, seasons that change overnight, being in sync with Annie’s tea cravings, waiting at traffic lights when there is no traffic, people always willing to help, the crazy inspirational quotes on T-shirts, Tokyo bay at night, driving for an hour and not seeing another car, Annie’s F and B, Don Don down on Wednesday’s and the chatty dude in there,  hai!, automatic cars, restaurants that look like someone’s front room, Lou’s mansion, the lack of rain, elementary kids with craft knives, driving dance parties with the girls, smiling to survive, donuts for breakfast, representing the UK- usually unsuccessfully, snow mountains made by teachers at 4 in the morning, road-tripping with Jeff, making kids speak in a northern accent, festivals that are completely baffling, cleaning the school with the kids, knowing that you can dare to dream, feeling capable and knowing I survived with a smile on my face.

For all of this I thank you Japan…I’ll be back.

 

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