I just spent ten days back home in England, and the timing was just right to get me thinking about the things I will and won’t miss about Japan when I leave (which is in a little over 100 days, by the way…).
So, here’s a short summary of my musings so far:
Things I’ll Miss
- The way everyone is just SO polite in shops. The way people say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when you buy something, and the way they bow at you like you’re special even though you only spent about a fiver. This, of course, doesn’t happen in England. You’d be lucky to get a ‘thank you’ in most places.
- Rice balls. I mean, I love sandwiches, but rice balls rule! I especially like the triangle-shaped tuna ones. When I first ate one I had no idea how to unwrap it, despite the easy instructions on the package. Now I feel like they’re the easiest, most convenient food in Japan.
- Japanese. As soon as I got to Helsinki on my return trip I started hearing a bit of Japanese, and I realised how much I like to hear it. Understanding a little makes me feel like I’m a part of some secret club or something.
- The way people try so hard not to bump into you on the street, and they sort of hold their hand up to say excuse me. Hell, I even do this now – not that anyone noticed in Covent Garden…
- Temples and shrines – there’s nothing like them in the UK.
- Festivals (although I want to make a concerted effort to attend more festivals in other countries).
- “Itadakimasu”. I have no words in English to say before I eat something. I find “itadakimasu” particularly useful when someone has given me something to eat, as it seems to say “thank you”, too.
- My Xperia cell phone. Over Christmas I was stuck in the UK with my very old Nokia handset, which could barely text and got really confused when I tried to access Facebook. As soon as I get a job, I’ll be getting an Xperia again! (Or maybe an iPhone…)
Things I Won’t Miss
- Not being able to find a decent veggie meal. I was so happy to open menu upon menu in England and be reunited with those little ‘v’ signs.
- Getting so confused so easily just because I can’t read something or catch a word.
- Kanji (well, maybe I’ll miss them a little bit…) 😉
- Teeny tiny clothes and shoes that don’t fit me – in every store!! >_<
- Being sick and not being able to buy medicine easily because I can’t understand the packaging.
- The Japanese work ethic. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for hard work and I don’t mind a bit of overtime. But Japan is mainly a country of work-a-holics, and that can’t be healthy.
- Natto. It just creeps in everywhere, and now even the word makes me feel sick.
- Cockroaches. Need I say more? >_<
So that’s just a few things off the top of my head right now. I will certainly miss Japan a lot when I go back to England, but of course it will be much easier to live in an English-speaking country. One of the reasons I came to Japan was to learn and challenge myself, and I always promised myself that when that challenge stopped being fun and became hard work I would recognise it as time to go home.
I hope nothing I say here puts anyone off coming to Japan to live or even just to visit. It’s an amazing country and I will certainly be back, even if it’s just for a holiday! I hope that the ideas I have shared on my blog so far will help to encourage others who might be thinking of visiting Japan. If you’re reading this and want to ask any questions about living in Japan or visiting, please feel free to leave a comment and I promise to get back to you.
Finally, I think January might be a bit of a quiet month for Haikugirl, but don’t worry… I’m still here! I have a few adventures lined up, and I never know when some exciting opportunity will present itself to me. So please continue to “watch this space”! (And don’t forget to “like” me on Facebook and “follow” me on Twitter!) 😀