So here we are at the end of February and I have less than a month to go before my journey home. I have mixed feelings about leaving Japan to be honest. I know it is the right decision to make for not only myself, but more importantly my family. However, we are leaving behind some good people and wonderful memories.
The issue that is at the forefront of my mind right now is leaving Shoko & Luka behind for a month while I am trying to get things on track before their arrival. I know it is something I need to do and it has to be done, but the thought of not seeing them is heart wrenching. I think about it daily and sometimes I get overwhelmed with feelings of sadness. I know it is only a short time, but I feel like I will be missing out on a lot with Luka. A lot can/will happen in a month with a child that is only 1 1/2 years old. Also, I want to be there for Shoko to give her a break and support her. Her mom has been great, but they count on me to do a lot so when I am not there it will make things more difficult. So if you could be praying for all of us that would be great. I just need to have the peace and comfort knowing all will be fine and that I will see them soon enough. I think maybe once I am on the plane it will get easier since from that point on it will be a count down to see them again. That is at least what I'm telling myself to get through this month...lol
I have met some wonderful teachers this past year that now I consider friends. They have been great in helping me learn the ropes of the job and getting me to where I am at today. I had NO idea what I was doing in April and probably still don't, but at least now I can fake it. ;) I can write for days about teaching here so let me just say that it has been a wonderful and life changing experience for sure. My students have been so amazing and such true delights. The Japanese don't know how good they have it as far as behavior and respect go in the classroom. There are problems as well, but there are problems with American students. There is no perfect way to get all kids to do the right thing. However, here the kids in general have a real sweetness and childlike quality that our kids of the same age back in America are lacking.
The family Payne has met one really great couple here. They have a son the same age as Luka and they have been pretty much growing up together since we got here. Kids this age don't really play with one another yet, but they do interact and that has been such fun to watch. Not only have our kids been good pals we have grown to be great friends with this couple. I have spent numerous days over the last year hanging out with him. We are really totally two different people, but share a common bond of both being Americans, having sons the same age, married to Japanese women and living in Japan as a Gaijin. So a lot of our talks come from these common issues. It has been a real blast getting to know him and his wife and their son. Shoko and his wife get a long smashing as well so that has been great. We all do a lot together or sometimes he and I just have guy guys night out. ;) These times I will miss for sure.
I have two ALT brothers in arms here as well. Though family commitments usually kept us from getting together more than I would have liked they have been a big part of my life this year. One is a great guy from New York and he is a very honest and upfront fella. He was a little hesitant to meet me. He has told me this based on my overtly Christan views and lifestyle. However, we have become friends have talked a lot. Mostly about the two topics you should NEVER talk about with anyone. Kitakyushu with him was one of my favorite times here. Thank you for that! He is not one to mince words and is a straight shooter and has always shown me respect even if he and I disagree with one another. The other cool cat is a man from Fiji. I had never met a Fijian before and when I saw his name the first time on my list of fellow ALTs in this area I thought he was a woman. LOL Once I saw this bloke a woman he is NOT. This guy is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He has been an amazing ambassador for his people and his country. Our families went to church a few times and they are Methodists so that automatically makes them super groovy in my book. Out of all the people I have met here I feel a close kinship with him and I think a lot of that is due to the fact that he and his wife are Christians and we look at things in a way different as folks that are not. It is a common bond that is shared no matter what your race or nationality. You have a common thread in each others life and that is our Saviour. He and I have talked a lot. I wish I would have had more time with both guys and their families, but this is the life of married man who is an ALT in Japan. Work a lot with not much money and spend what time you have left in the day with your loved ones.
I think one can not talk about Japan and not mention the food. So many people are scared of food which they cant recognize or tell what it is that they are looking at. You just have to throw caution into the wind and dive right in. This is the only way that you can really experience anything food related. The most common thing people think is that Japanese food is the same as Chinese. This is 100% FALSE. There is no real similarities other than white rice. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_food here is a link so you can see what I am talking about. I LOVE Japanese food there are very few things that I don't like. It seems the stuff that I don't like as a whole is in step with many Japanese people as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natto and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_urchin are the biggest offenders to my pallet. I CAN eat it, but would rather not if given the opportunity to decline it. I would if anything strongly encourage all people give authentic Japanese cuisine a real chance. You will I think be really surprised by the great food you will find here or in America. I have been coming to Japan since 1998 and it took me a little time to jump in head first, but once I made the choice to do so it was one the best decisions food wise I have ever made.
This is long enough I suppose. I will be probably do a part two in the coming days/week. I have a few more things to talk about. However, I think this is a good stopping point and I will give your eyes and brain a rest. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think of this post and my other posts. Thanks to everyone who takes a gander at this blog.