A Long Goodbye

I’ve had quite a few goodbyes in the past week. It’s been pretty rough.

First, a lunch on my next to last day where 11 of my coworkers from all over the company surprised me with a lunch organized by my good friend Jacob. That evening, Jacob took me out for sake tasting and dinner and for the first time I had fresh edamame. It was delicious, I had no idea. Japanese cuisine has definitely changed my palette for the better.

On my last day, people who couldn’t make it to my goodbye dinner that night came to my desk and gave me gifts! Many tasty treats to eat on the plane and a couple of charms for my phone or backpack. :’) I’m surrounded by such thoughtful people.



That night, my team took me out for a dinner party: lots of pizza and LOTS OF DRINKING.

Soon the time came for gift giving. First Sasamon presented me with a plastic cap that made me look like a samurai, which I of course wore all night.

My best samurai face.
My best samurai face.

Many times over the last year I had remarked to Sasamon how much I loved his backpack. He told me it was love at first sight for him when he saw it, but it was very expensive, hand-made in the US. I looked it up online and saw he was right, definitely pricey (but so cool!).

The second gift came out and when I opened it I was speechless even in English – they had pitched together and gotten me that backpack!

I have his backpack but I'll never be as cool as Sasamon!
I have his backpack but I’ll never be as cool as Sasamon!

The thoughtfulness of these people moved me. Even now as I write this they are a true inspiration–I want to try to be like them in the future and create the feeling in others that their kindness has had in me.

In my short goodbye speech I told them I would in no way forget Japan or my friends here, and that they had become my true friends. Yoshimura-chan began to cry.

Afterward, when I thought the party was over (I should have known better) it was time for a smaller group to out for karaoke AND MORE DRINKING!

We sang Michael Jackson, Oasis, and Stand By Me arm-in-arm. Matsumoto-kun told me he was sad to see me go because we were douki, members of the team who joined at the same time. The outpouring of this night made me feel so incredibly loved.

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Finally we said good night. Later, alone on the train, I was the drunk gaijin staring out the window, tears running down his cheeks.

Here’s a little slideshow with some more pictures of these people who have so quickly entered my heart.

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I already miss them.


Drinking, Celebration, and a Wordless Call

Wow. I have taken 80 pictures and videos since posting last. One downside to living in Japan like a real person and not a tourist is that you always have real person things to do. Setting up bank accounts, gas bill accounts, water, electricity, phone, working 10 hour work days. I’m not complaining, but I am pretty damn tired when I get home. So instead of a full-fledged post, I’m just going to dump some videos and pictures here with tiny explanations. Enjoy!

Shabu-Shabu Nomikai

My coworkers treated me to a Shabu-Shabu “drinking party.” I had an incredibly fun time. Shabu-shabu is my second favorite Japanese food. My number one favorite Japanese food is free Shabu-shabu, which this was! These people are incredible, really. Also, somehow, about 5 beers in my skill in speaking and understanding Japanese seems to skyrocket.

The meal is only as good as the company in which it is eaten, and this night's meal was superb.
The meal is only as good as the company in which it is eaten, and this night’s meal was superb. Apologies to the many people not pictured or poorly pictured due to the panorama.

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Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival)

I went to my ku’s Summer Festival (a ku is sort of like a county in America) last weekend. Got sunburned. Experienced many new things: giant drums, beautiful music, mikoshi (portable minature Shinto shrines) being paraded, dances, local foods. Too much to describe. I don’t even have time to rename the image files. Just have a look if you want; if a picture is worth a thousand words, you’re about to read a novel. Maybe a collection of short stories.

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A random shrine

I came across this shrine walking to a library. I love this country. Everywhere you go it invites you to pause and appreciate simplicity. Can such a place of serene beauty in the midst of human civilization exist anywhere else?