It is with mixed emotions that I come to write what will be one of the final few posts on thefunkydrummer. In just over two weeks time, my two years in Japan will be over and I’ll be packing up my life and heading home.
Though I’d like to think that one day I’ll return, the truth is, the Japan chapter of my life is about to come to a very abrupt end and I’ll be leaving in the knowledge that I’ll probably never see many of these people and places again. Goodbye cheap apartment, pimp car, cool river, deserted lakes and snowy mountains.
During the last few weeks, I’ve found myself quite up and down in terms of feelings about leaving Japan. Although I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with my family and friends from home, and walking once more on the soil of the motherland, sometimes I feel quite melancholy about the prospect of leaving a place that I gotta whole lotta love for, to the point where my eyes well up if I think about it too hard.
Whilst many JETs have been tearing round the country trying to tick off the final “must see” destinations, I’ve been taking a more local approach, and have just been maximising my time with the people and places that I will dearly miss on my departure.
Ironically, despite the fact that I have never been more far removed from a local population in terms of physical appearance, linguistic ability and cultural awareness, it is here, in a small, rural town, considered a backwater by most Japanese, that I have felt more of a local, than anywhere else in the world I’ve ever lived.
Whether it’s hiking through snow on some deserted peak in the Okuestu mountain range, playing football with the local team, kayaking with Sam or my J-sis on a beautiful clear blue lake, or banging out some drum beats at the local bar, myself, and my fellow Okuestu gaijin (Caitlin and Brandon) have been made to feel very welcome here.
The generosity and open heartedness of the Ono locals has made my two years here very special. A few days ago our ‘man of the mountain’ and local bar owner Yasu, threw a little sayonara party for us – it was perfect – good friends, good food and some music performed by us and our Japanese friends.
Bran Van and I presented Yasu with a little annotated photo album entitled “Yasu’s Adventures with the Gaijin” which documents our back country expeditions together. I think it was the perfect gift to remember us by, and he proudly showed it off, saying it was a “treasure”.
It was good that we had the sayonara party then, and not right before we leave. That way, we can kid ourselves into believing that we will see our friends (Japanese and other foreigners) again, allowing us the liberty of saying “see you again”, rather than the painful, yet inevitable “goodbye”.
The one thing that I do keep reminding myself, is that there are still so many cool places to see and people to meet in the world, and I’m looking forward to exploring more of the planet’s beautiful places.
I’m also looking forward to ditching the teaching. It’s been fun, but I’ve had my fill and I’m really looking forward to pushing other projects – like www.SnowSphere.com, which will soon have a new sister publication -www.DirtSphere.com.
The countdown continues...