When I arrived in Japan almost two months ago, I expected some big changes. Having grown up in Ontario, Canada, I was used to crappy public transportation, large houses (not to mention big backyards), and toilets in the same room as the shower.
Everything is different in Japan.
I knew this would be the case. Like I said, I expected some big changes. I knew the public transportation here would be amazing (I’m not kidding — I get frustrated and confused now when my train’s a minute late); I knew everything would be crammed, from my apartment to the sidewalk to the places at which I eat and shop; and I knew, because I had visited Japan before, that my toilet would most likely not be in the same room as my shower.
But there have been some differences that I didn’t know about or expect. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go on and on about the vending machines and convenience stores (which are endless and always actually convenient). These three differences were more subtle. They took longer for me to notice. And, most importantly, I think they speak to the deeper differences between Japan and America as a whole. Continue reading
Looking in my bathroom mirror recently, I can’t help but feel surprised by the person I see. The expression on her face is always a bit alarming, balanced somewhere between total exhaustion and relief at being home finally at 8:30 pm. The hair on her head doesn’t have any opinion: it’s pulled straight back into a ponytail, braid, or a variety of other methods that help her pretend it doesn’t exist during the day.
And those eyes… I try to not even think of those eyes, let alone look into them. They’re tired, always. They remind me of how much older I’m starting to look, how much older I’m starting to feel.
Surprisingly, despite the rush of this new life in Japan, despite the stress, the busyness, and the millions of tiny frustrations and disappointments, I am getting along just fine. Continue reading
Finding a new home: the bus ride from Nagoya to Tokyo
For a long time I have underestimated the comfort and necessity of a home base. I’ve always idolized the notion of living life with no ties, of jumping from place to place, of being unattached to material possessions. I was discussing identity with my boyfriend recently, talking about how places, things — even people — slide away so easily and abruptly. And here we are, continuing on, somehow still ourselves.
So I don’t need a home base for definition or security. I’ve realized that more and more throughout my travels from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Krabi, Nagoya, and now to Tokyo. What I do need a home base for is comfort at the end of the day. Continue reading
About a year and a half ago I visited Japan for the first time. It was an out-of-this-world experience (I’m not kidding, at times I felt I had landed on an alien planet), and I vowed to return. I loved the food, the architecture, the language, the outstanding customer service, and, above all, the deeply-rooted tradition.
Here’s me in a yukata (summer kimono) at the Tanabata Festival in Nagoya, 2016
When I vowed to come back to Japan, I knew the easiest way to stay here for an extended period of time would be to work. Of course, the most available employment opportunity was teaching English. I signed up for a TESL certification course, and, in the mean time, completed my undergraduate degree. I soon got a job, did the necessary paperwork, and booked my flights. Continue reading
Here’s me in Thailand. I am sweaty, fatigued, and my thighs are smeared with mud. My boyfriend and I had been exploring for a while on and around Railay Beach (near Krabi) when we decided to take a “trail” which supposedly led to a lagoon. The path, which started steep, soon became a climb. I ditched my flipflops. Before long, my muscles were aching, the trail became a sheer drop-off, and I realized I wouldn’t be making it to the lagoon.
This was one challenge I couldn’t complete, and for good reason. (Who wants to traverse the possibly deadly side of a ravine far from any medical help, anyway?) But this wasn’t the only challenge that my travels have faced me with. Continue reading
The title of this post was going to be something to do with goodbyes — how rotten they feel, how draining they are — because goodbyes have filled my life over the last four days. I’ve always viewed goodbyes as an integral part of living and as something for which to be thankful (goodbyes don’t hurt unless you really love someone, after all), but the amount of farewells I’ve had to say recently has left me more than overwhelmed. Who knew I loved so many people! Who knew it would be so difficult to leave my old life behind… Continue reading
Tomorrow I will write the final exam of my undergraduate degree.
Ahem, yes. Tomorrow I will write the final exam of my undergraduate degree!
If you’ve been following my blog for a little over a year, you might remember my post, Time and Too Many Monsters: Why I am Leaving Formal Education, in which I professed my reasons for dropping nearly all of my classes in the early spring of 2016. For a short synopsis, my decision had both to do with persistent mental health issues and a stagnant, frustratingly dreary existence that went along with university life. Continue reading
After reading through my last 101 Reasons to Keep Living post, I decided that “Movement” would be a fine companion to “Naps.” After all, movement (of the mind or body) is what makes me tired enough to nap, and the energy I gain from naps gives me the ability to keep moving.
Movement, for me, has always been a confusing dichotomy. On one hand, I love travel. Going from country to country, getting little to no sleep, learning new languages, making fast friends, experiencing foreign cultures, partaking in spontaneous adventures… These things have always held me enraptured. On the other hand, I have perhaps unrealistic dreams of owning a farmhouse complete with fireplace, overstuffed bookshelves, deep couches, rugs, cats, maybe two or three rambling kids… You get the picture. Continue reading
*My apologies! I don’t know how this happened, but this post was written two weeks ago on the day it was supposed to be published. Somehow it remained a draft and never made it onto the Amber Typewriter. I only noticed this now after returning home from my three-week stay in Japan.
p.s. The first line of the article seems to have even more significance now. Again, my apologies!
You know you’re living when you don’t have the desire to show proof of your life to the world wide web.
But, here I am. After seven days of ceaseless travel I have finally found the time and internet access to share some of my adventures. This journey to Japan has given me over a thousand reasons to keep living, but the most inspiring of all these is the people I have met along the way. Continue reading