And then she returned to Japan…
Thinking about returning to Japan fills me with anxiety, excitement and a sense of relief. Six years have passed since I hugged my wonderful host family goodbye, hopped in a taxi and headed back to my little island. Much has happened since – relocation, marriage, starting over, returning to education and well, you know, all of those highs and lows life throws your way. The life I led and hoped for back then feels alien upon reflection. My naïve twenty-something days are over and now, at 32, I’m much more practical, realistic and focused, yet still terrified of speaking Japanese in public.
As we sat at Minamoto Kitchoan (which I previously blogged about) last week enjoying an authentic prelude to Japanese cuisine in the form of far too much wagashi (Japanese sweets) whilst drinking matcha and making plans for Tokyo, it occurred to me to my trip will be more than a holiday. Much more than a few weeks of improving my language skills, eating mochi and taking thousands of photographs. This is an opportunity for me to understand more about myself and why Japan fascinates me to the point of returning to school as a mature student. This may also be an important step in my private life but that’s another blog post for maybe never.
I often roll my eyes in frustration when people talk about Japan in terms of sushi, “kawaii” culture and kimonos but the reality is that I’ve only recently started to understand the complexities of Japan myself, and I’m even more intrigued. Though most of my days will be spent studying, I hope to find time to delve further into the mindset of Tokyoites. I still have this fear that I will arrive in Japan and realise that in actual fact I cannot speak Japanese. We will see. On a positive note, I will be in the right place to learn.
For the next few weeks, though dotted with tales from London and Paris, things will be very Japanese around here. Of course I will be a tourist but I endeavour to enjoy and share some of the more authentic wonders (and tea outings) of a country I hold dear to my heart. You can follow my Tokyo adventures on Instagram (I finally signed up!), Facebook, Pinterest and good ole Twitter.