Just a little over a week ago, I returned to the US after living in Japan for two years. I really loved my time in Japan and the move back was somewhat bittersweet. I expected that I would miss all the things I loved about Japan (friends I’d made, delicious Japanese foods, exploring the country and culture, etc.) but I was also really looking forward to seeing friends and family, eating all the foods I’d missed, and just generally being home. And I was returning to Hawaii, a gorgeous place to visit and to live, so really there were a lot of positives, too. What I did not expect was to return to Hawaii only to feel completely out of place and almost a bit like I was visiting a new foreign country. I was completely surprised to feel this way and more than a little dismayed. This is what is known as reverse culture shock. I just read a very interesting post on the topic by Tokyo Five and posted my initial thoughts there in the comments but here are my thoughts after a few more days back in Hawaii. (more…)
I have not been posting very much lately and that is because we’ve moved! It is very hard to believe but our two years in Japan are over and we’re back in Hawaii. I was definitely sad to leave. There were just so many things I loved about Japan and there was always something new to explore. But we definitely plan to visit again and I know there are plenty of adventures ahead here in Hawaii. ^_~ Getting everything ready for the move (selling furniture, packing, etc.) was quite a bit of work so I did not get to post many of the sightseeing spots that I visited over the past few weeks. And at the moment we are still in transition and staying with a friend as we search for an apartment here in Honolulu. But worry not, I will still share about those final sightseeing trips in Japan as things settle down! For now, here are a few of the things I’ve been loving in July.
1. Mint chocolate chip ice cream
It may seem like a strange item to pick, but mint chocolate chip ice cream seems to be a seasonal flavor in Japan and appears in most stores only in summer. As the heat and humidity increased in Tokyo, having a treat of cold mint chocolately goodness became a must for me. There are plenty of brands out there but my favorite this year seems to be Glico’s Panapp ice cream. So good!
2. ぷよぷよ！！クエスト (Puyo Puyo!! Quest)
This tile matching game with a card system RPG twist is so addictive! First of all, it’s very easy to start playing since the basic element is to simply touch and “pop” Puyo in order to make other Puyo fall into line with other Puyo of the same color. Once 4 or more matching Puyo connect, they are cleared. Unlike other tile matching games though, clearing the screen isn’t the only objective. In Quest, a player has cards to battle an opponent and clearing Puyo allows the characters on the player’s cards to attack the opponent (clearing blue Puyo allows the characters on blue cards to attack, etc.). Through defeating opponents, you collect additional cards as well as coins and other game items that can be used to level up cards. Of course you want to collect them all! And leveling up your cards gives you another objective rather than simply trying to clear the screen to get a high score. My husband introduced me to this and as soon as I installed the app on my phone I was hooked. And not only is it fun, but since it’s in Japanese, it gives me another fun way to practice my reading. So really it’s a study tool, too. ^_~
3. Summer fireworks
When I think of summer in Japan, one of my favorite things is the tradition of fireworks festivals. We managed to attend the fireworks display at Showa Kinen Park just before we left and it was so much fun! There are plenty of food stands to enjoy and, once the sun sets, an entire hour of fireworks! I think I’ll have to do an entire post on this once I can get some photos of the yukata I wore off my husband’s camera. Until then, think of this as a sneak peak!
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Talk about a blast from the past, I originally watched this TV series when I was in high school and then missed a season or two once I went to college. I’d always meant to go back and watch it all and I’m really not sure what made me think of it but it became my trip down memory lane this month. Once we’d sold our furniture and appliances…and light fixtures!…there was not a lot of packing or cleaning we could accomplish after dark. So I ended up watching quite a bit of this series over the past couple weeks and enjoying the wonderful campy humor of the show. Plus it brings back memories of watching the show with friends. Ah, good times. ^_^
5. Upgrade to business class
By the time we made it to the airport on our last day in Japan, we were fairly exhausted. We had to be up early to get all the final cleaning done so we could put out the final bags of trash and recycling and then had several appointments with staff to cancel various utilities, followed by the actual apartment inspection. Then we had to get our final pieces of luggage (we used a shipping service to take 3 of the large suitcases to the airport a couple days in advance…such a good idea!) to the airport bus and spend two hours on the trip to the airport. So when Korean Air said they were upgrading us to business class, it felt a bit like a reward for all our effort that day (and the days before). My husband and I usually struggle to get any sleep on flights but maybe that’s because we never had a seat that reclined into a bed before! Now that’s the way to travel. ^_^
July has certainly been a very busy month and somewhat bittersweet with the move. I was sorry to say goodbye to Japan but there are so many things to look forward to here in Hawaii. I’m looking forward to seeing what August will bring!