This has been a very difficult week for me. We are wrapping up our year here in Japan and starting our preparations to move back to Boise. Many of the preparations are logistical. I've closed out my Japanese bank account and we are working with the moving company to get things shipped back to the US, on Monday we are closing out our cell phones and changing our residency.
The part that has really been difficult is saying goodbye to the wonderful people that I have come to know and love while living in Japan this year. We've went to a dinner and said goodbye to the hiking club and introduced them to Wren. She was on every hike with the hiking club that we went on, I found out I was pregnant shortly after our first hike. I said goodbye to the ladies at the tea ceremony class. I enjoyed learning with them every 2 weeks. They were super sweet and were also happy to see Wren (I had not been back since I had her). I said goodbye to my coworkers at the YMCA and they also met Wren for the first time. I have to laugh at the number of Japanese ladies who worked there who said they had no idea I was pregnant. I felt HUGE, but I guess it wasn't as obvious to them. I stopped working there 6 weeks before my due date so I guess I still got a bit bigger but I am still amazed.
The two hardest people to say goodbye to were my Greek friend Despina who I met through the YMCA and Ito-san, my Japanese language teacher. Despina has an infectious enthusiasm and energy that just makes my heart happy. Her youthful innocence (shes about 12 years younger than me) was refreshing and wonderful. I hope that she can stay so sweet! Ito-san has taught me not only Japanese language and culture (she also took me to the flower arranging class and tea ceremony class but also talked about Japanese culture during our lessons) but she became like family to me. Today was our last lesson together. She is the most thoughtful person ever! She arranged special things for my family when they visited, completely unsolicited based on little details she remembered from me talking about my family. She took a Japanese children's book and translated it so I can read it to Wren in. She also asked if she could read books over Skype to her. Just writing about these goodbyes has me crying again!
I think it is difficult to make friends when living in a foreign country with a language barrier, but I am hoping that the friends that I have made will be friends for life. Thank goodness for modern technology that makes the world a little smaller.
As much as I will miss pieces of Japan, I am looking forward to going home and enjoying my American friends and my dogs. I think my dog sitter is ready to be relieved of her burden. I'm sure I'll have another post or two when I get home. There are a few things that I meant to write about (or have been trying to bully Jeff in to writing about) but this chapter in my life is winding down and making room for the next one. I'll be flying back to Boise late on August 5th. I'm sure I'll have a few tips on flying with a 2 month old by the time the travel is done. I'm not looking forward to trying to figure out what we need to take with us for 3 weeks to keep Wren happy (what we can't take on the airplane will take about 3 weeks to get to us in Boise, which is about forever if you want it but don't have it and don't want to buy another one).
We start packing things up tomorrow and the movers come on Monday. This has been an amazing year!
Sayonara Japan! I will miss you!