End game

I have been writing a lot lately, but posting very little.  All of the writings are unfinished thoughts or just hesitation on if it should be posted or not.  Anyways, I have 11 days left in Japan now, and only 2 days left of work, finishing my 42 month tenure with Shomaruchu.  The 3rd year students at all the schools in the city have already graduated, so it’s feeling like a bit of a ghost town.  The teachers for first and second year have assigned me to make review lessons.  Reading in between the lines, it means they don’t have anything left and they just want me to joke around with the kids.  No problem…  I have plenty of English time killers.
On a separate note, I have been going through my mental checklist of things I will miss and things I will be happy to have behind me. This list will be pretty similar to an old post I made about what I like and dislike in Japan, but what the hell…

Things I’ll miss:


1) Hatsumoude-  My wife and I have made this into an adventure.  We go to a new temple every New Years.  It’s a very festival atmosphere that I really enjoy…  Without the stupid outfits and bad dancing.
2) Food quality- quality is preferred over quantity here.  Nuff said
3) Service- Need I say more?  Japan truly spoils you.
4) Pens- high quality and precise.  It’s necessary for writing characters that were meant for wall scrolls onto a normal piece of paper.
5) Cherry blossoms-  if you have never experienced walking down the road in a shower of cherry blossom petals, you are missing out on one of life’s great, simple pleasures.
6) The kids- In my experience, kids revel in being kids in Japan.  Stateside I mostly have experienced kids who are 13 going on 35.
7) Being severed from US popular culture-  Not being bombarded by the compost heap that is shoveled into the mouths of every American in the form of Snooki, Kim Cardassian, Miley Sirus and lady gaga has been a blessing I will miss.
8) Bread shops- the amazing things they do with pastries here… Sooooo damn good.
9) Mass transportation- it’s clean.  It’s punctual.  It’s safe. It’s efficient. It’s convenient.  And finally it’s ample.  You don’t need a car at all if you are in Tokyo.  I don’t think it would have to same success in the US though, mainly because of size, and people would be dicks on the train.
Things I won’t miss
1) Noise pollution- the only time I can remember not being bombarded with some sort of announcement, or engine noise was when I was hiking.  Buying a good set of Bose noise canceling headphones is worth the money.
2) Hayfever-  I only get some minor hay fever irritation stateside, but in Japan I get it in spades.
3) Politicians- politicians worldwide are universally crap, but in Japan, they are given bullhorns, adding a whole new dimension to noise pollution.  
4) Lack of awareness-  this was a shocker for me.  I would naturally conclude that people in Japan (Japan being over congested) would have a naturally refined sense of what is around them and how to navigate around it.  Surprisingly, most don’t, it’s the opposite. People just blunder along.  It’s a new thing in the US with people texting, walking and running into things, but it was pioneered here I suppose… Way before smartphones.
5) Functional illiteracy-  yup.  I can’t read Japanese at a functional level.  This means most of the really nice conveniences are closed off to me.  I am totally dependent on the goodwill of others.  Fortunately, there is always someone more than willing to help.  It’s just frustrating giving up a large portion of your freedom.
6) Being disposable/ marginalized-  as far as employment and politics is concerned, if you are not Japanese, you are disposable.  This is probably the same in any country, but here I am at the business end of it.  I have no doubt that if I retired here, they would find some way to screw me out of my pension.

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