It’s hard to believe that in exactly one week I’ll be leaving Matsuyama and then a few days after that, Japan, for who knows how long.
My experience here has been unforgettable, and I’ll go on record and say if Japan could just float across the Pacific and be closer to my family in America then I would stay in heartbeat.
I feel like I squeezed as many experiences out of Japan as I could in a years’ time, but I’ve already started to construct a list of what I might want to do or see (besides visit my Matsuyama fam) when I have the opportunity to return. In particular, I’m a little sore to have missed Kyoto (where “all the cool castles and **** are”, a member of the Ehime Orange Vikings told me), the snow festival in Sapporo, Nagano, and Fukuoka.
But perhaps what I’m most curious about seeing the next time though isn’t a Japanese thing, but Dutch. Ever since I watched this funny video about the history of Japan, I’ve thought visiting Dejima would be interesting.
A Dutch trading post in the bay of Nagasaki, Dejima was a man-made island that served as the only place Japan could trade with the outside world during the Edo period. Visiting traders were not allowed to leave the makeshift port and go onto the mainland, nor were Japanese (except those of particular professions) allowed to visit the other way. It was through this small gateway that Japan was introduced to photography, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, badminton, beer, and many other novelties from the outside world.
From what I read, the modern Dejima is very much a work-in-progress and might not be the most ‘grammable’ tourist spot Japan has to offer. But much of travel’s fun is the anticipation, and I’m sure whenever the daily doldrums strike in my routine American life, my mind will dream of the day when I too can arrive from the west at Dejima.
I can’t believe my time at Amic is almost over! It feels like only yesterday I was stepping off the airplane at Matsuyama airport and getting the keys to my new apartment. Next month I’ll be flying back to America, but the friendships and memories I made in Matsuyama will stay with me forever. As I look back on my time in Japan, a few moments are especially dear to me:
- Hiking up Mount Ishizuchi as the leaves were changing colors thanks to Tsuneo-san
- Successfully eating somen nagashi and visiting some suzushii rocks with Andrew and Adam sensei
- Participating in (and feeling like Godzilla during) a traditional Japanese tea ceremony
- Going to karaoke for my birthday and racking up a ¥24,000 bill with Andrew and Joe sensei (yikes!)
- Getting invited to Sakamoto-san’s fantastic art exhibition
- Getting a beautiful hand-made yukata from Atsuko-san
- Eating everything fried off a stick during Natsu Matsuri
- Watching baseball dances in Shiroyama Koen
- Playing the taiko game and taking cute purikura pictures at the game center
- Waking up early to go to Dogo to watch the exciting and dangerous Kenka Mikoshi
- Running a relay marathon with Team Turtle2 and taking pictures with a massive group of kawaii girls dressed as Kiki
- Eating delicious Japanese food paired with wonderful sake thanks to sake master Toru-san
- The stress of planning Halloween and Christmas activities, but then having a lot of fun playing games and making crafts
- Finding a favorite pizzeria and speaking to the owner in Italian (shout out to Pizzeria Dodo!)
I want to thank all of my students and coworkers for making my time in Matsuyama so memorable. It’s been an amazing 16 months and I will always remember Ehime fondly. Thank you for letting me be your teacher.
新住所: 松山市余戸中6-7-24 リバティ余戸1階
ぜひこのチャンスにぜひお試しください٩( ᐛ )و
As I enter the final stretch of my time in Japan, I’ve started to dream about all the foods I’ve sorely missed while being away from America.
1. Chipotle – Priority number one after greeting my family at the airport (and maybe even before that) will be making a trip to Chipotle. This fast-casual restaurant serves burritos and tacos, letting you choose your own toppings; my go-to is a chicken burrito with extra rice, lettuce, medium salsa, pico di gallo, and if I’m feeling crazy, black beans. It’s one of the few things I can get from a restaurant that will fill me up for $7.
2. SunButter – I have a nut allergy, so SunButter is my peanut butter (and ice cream). Instead of peanuts, it’s made from sunflower seeds and depending on who you ask, tastes like peanut butter. While it’s easy for me to eat too much in one sitting if I’m not careful, I love putting this stuff on pretty much anything I have around the house: bananas, crackers, in my scrambled eggs…
3. Cincinnati-style Chili – This is a southwest Ohio-delicacy I never paid much mind to (or really had a desire to eat) until I moved abroad. Cincinnati chili is spaghetti topped with a cinnamon and clove-spiced meat sauce and finally, cold shredded cheese. It looks gross, probably sounds gross, and tastes…pretty good.
4. Candy Corn and Candy Canes – I desperately wanted to introduce my students to these classic holiday confections this past year, but I unfortunately couldn’t find anywhere to buy them in Japan. Candy corn is not actually corn (and some would argue that it barely qualifies as candy), but is instead an orange, yellow, and white sweet that resembles a kernel of corn. Candy canes are red and white-striped sticks that host a strong peppermint flavor. Their hook shape makes them fun to hold and eat (and get all over your mouth if you’re a little kid).
These two candies make up two of the four main food groups for elves.
5. CHEESE – While you can of course buy cheese in Japan, the options aren’t quite as wide as they are in America. In particular, I’m looking forward to sinking my little cheese knife into smoked gouda, blue cheese, and Vermont cheddar.
We are close to the end of January, and by this stage people have either worked out and made a list of resolutions, or broken them. I have mine pinned on a wall in the kitchen, so that I am reminded every day.
The most common ones people set are about health and fitness, and saving and earning money. And yes, they are on the top of my list, but there are some other ones, too.
This year I need to improve and work on my mental skills. I used to do puzzles, and meditate, but haven’t for a long time. I also need to read more. I’ve only just started, but all I need to do is make it a habit- that’s what I keep telling myself.
I want to work on being optimistic, reduce stress, and be happy with my life. I’m going to make it a habit to find joy in even the small things and not worry so much when problems get you down.
It’s time to learn languages (again). I used to study Japanese and took lessons years back and would like to get back into it. I would also like to brush up on my Thai.
Have you started on your New Year’s resolutions?