Some leaving thoughts. I will definitely miss Japan. On a banal level the change in climate has been really nice. After five years of endless gray New England winters, the comparitively sun-flooded and warm Tokyo winter was a bit of a thrill. Many of my Aussie and Kiwi co-expats disagreed, but coming from winters with long stretches in the serious Celsius negatives, this year was balmy.
It will be a rude shock to start using (and planning on) trains that don’t run like swiss watches.
I never realized the extent, for better or worse, to which America is the entertainment engine for so much of the world. I never would have expected TV in the world’s second-largest economy to be so low-budget and uninspired. Not that the endless food and variety programs aren’t popular, but I never realized the production quality I took for granted in the US was not really available anywhere else, fishbowl-living, small-minded me…
The scale of Tokyo is staggering. As an amateur photographer, I am alternately thrilled and in despair over the infinite number of wonderful photo-ops offered by this massive metropolis. There are so many places I haven’t seen, and when I see an older tokyoite walking the city streets weighted down with a couple bags of photog gear, I can totally understand how a hobby can become an obsession with cataloguing the constantly-morphing scenery.
My best memories of Japan will definitely be the trips, however. To see the Peace Museum in Hiroshima and the great Shinto Gate in Miyajima. The air in Nikko. Snow pillowing rocks at Kegon Falls. Steaming onsen and cool afternoon air in Hakone. Fantastic memories. And I can’t wait to come back and see more.