Bye bye Tokyo

After almost three years in Japan, it was time to move on. It was perhaps sooner than I had expected.

As I was walking the streets of Baba in my last few days there, I suddenly realised how comfortable I’d become. How I had established that sense of security as I meandered through the various ‘systems’ in Japan – the trains, the soba-ya, the conbini, the crowds… Unlikely as it may seem and mostly passively, I had picked up quite a lot of Japanese and was able to get by with my barely existent speaking skill. I was able to call and book a taxi, (just about) negotiate a price for the furniture to be taken away, organise shipments of my parcels over the phone, react with a few jokes in social events – things that I didn’t know I could do. You might say that’s terrible as one might expect one to have become completely fluent in three years but I would still say that it isn’t bad for someone with no expectation and hadn’t really spent much effort in actively acquiring the language.

The cherry blossoms went into full bloom during the last week of my stay, as my former student affectionately put it, ‘it was a farewell’ from the essence of Japan.

Perhaps it’s a good thing to move before one gets too comfortable. A new part of the world to explore. Qatar here I come! Chapter Japan will be closed, at least for now.

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