Sagoi, ne?

So, now I'm at 3 months in and (although I have been terrible at documenting on this blog as of late) I still love Japan. It stills feels like an adventure, even on weekends like this when I stay in. I have truly fantastic friends, and aside from some "but I don't wannnnnna go to work" - type grumpiness on occasion, I am happy here. It makes me feel like I can be happy anywhere, honestly, and do it independently. It's a great feeling. I've only been here 3 months and I feel like I've grown up so much. My friend and I are always talking about how our attitudes here are best represented by a common Japanese phrase: "shoganai" which roughly translates into "whattya gonna do?" or "it can't be helped". That's kind how I am here. If I fuck up and make a fool of myself, I may have freaked out in the past, but now I just sort of let it roll off of my shoulders. It's really that simple.

So, being inspired by Gail's blog post about growing up in Katsutadai and loving Japan, I've concocted a list of things that anyone can do to ensure a 6 week toughening of the skin. Proven 100% effective:

- fall on your ass the first time you use a traditional Japanese style toilet (TMI, but I've since gotten quite used to the squatty bastards).
- be giggled at by young children who watch you struggle to order something totally simple like yakisoba or edamame (this happened a lot in the past).
- Have yakuza overhear you asking a friend about them in English, only to realize that the words "Japanese Mafia" are words that they are familiar with. Not frightening at all, just embarrassing Especially when they hear you and exclaim "JAPANESE MAFIAAAHH?"
- stumble over your first teaching lessons and hear students direct general derogatory remarks to their fellow classmates (ex: "baka sensei")
- have your t & a groped and referred to constantly by your students (kids are crazy obsessed with "oppai" [boobs] here, especially if you're particularly well-endowed).
- get lost constantly, although the effects of this are minor, as there is ALWAYS a kind and willing Japanese person who will not only point you in the right direction, but walk you there.

All this may sound terrible and embarrassing, but all of these things that happened to me in the first few weeks I was here have completely changed how negative or positive I am towards a situation. It's kind of like a less extreme fight or flight...you either run away with your head held in shame, or you laugh it off move on. Again, who knew being content with yourself was really that simple.

I know I will never be a sharp executive type who works 60 hours a week (I don't really want to be that person, honestly), because I am always seeking change and adventure. When I think of the future, I think of going to grad school for Graphic design, yes, but I also see travelling and backpacking and living abroad as much as possible. I've just let go of all the rules I SHOULD be following to live up to an ideal that isn't me. I'm going on and on about all this change and inspiration, I know, but it's good feeling.

So, self-motivational speeches aside, I did some pretty cool things last week. I went to Kyoto for two days, to Nikko on a day trip with Naz and Vaughn, and to Narita on the Emperor's birthday with Naz and Courtney.

Probably the best moment ever captured. In Nikko (can you believe those leaves? amazing!)

In Higashiyama in Kyoto (you can spot Kiyomizu temple and some lovely mountains in the background).

These trips were magical. And the end of the third trip, my picture taking abilities sort of went to shit because everything was so beautiful, it all just looked like a postcard. Nature here is, well, extraordinarily beautiful and dreamlike. God I will miss it when I leave. Although if I know myself, I'll be back many, many times in my life. Who knows, maybe I'll stay longer or come back with Blake after he gets his degree.

Something cool happened in Kyoto that is worth mentioning. I met a British woman in Kyoto at the Golden Pavilion temple (she was probably 70 or so) who was a retired English teacher taking a 3 week long trip through Japan on her own. She had a son who lived in Shanghai and had taught English in the Southern Himalayas (where the Dalai Lama lives) for 3 years. She had been everywhere. I felt so young and inexperienced whilst talking to her. But it was also really inspiring because she wasn't exactly a spring chicken and was still doing so much, on top of all the cool things she had done already. I wondered how the woman had time to have kids, honestly. I want to be like that woman. Adventuring this piece up until the day I croak. It's gonna happen.

Melody will be here in less than 2 months! So excited!


  1. by the way, i loved your list of things to toughen your skin.