Apr 2, 2015

Halfway Through

My apologies for not posting every week as per usual. To be honest, ever since I returned to Japan it hasn't felt like I'm really "traveling." This world is so familiar to me it feels like home.

Every day I've met up with friends, former students, fellow teachers; and I haven't written. Not really. My journal is noticeably blank throughout the month of March. Why? Coming back to Japan has awoken in me a mix of strong, sometimes opposing, emotions. I felt I couldn't clear my mind to focus and write about any one of them. At the same time, I've been lulled into a comfortable routine of living where everything is familiar.

Well, maybe not everything... Ishikawa has changed quite a bit since I left eight months ago. For one thing, the shinkansen line that connects Kanazawa to Tokyo is now complete! You can reach the capital directly in two and a half hours (the same amount of time it takes to reach Oku-Noto at a fraction of the distance). In anticipation of the tourism boom that will (hopefully) result from this new train line, the Noto has also been building new highway roads and rest stops.

Balloon Shinkansen in Nakanoto

Speaking of roads, Olivia and I went on an incredible road trip through the Oku-Noto. We had homemade lunch at a "magical" park complete with dark passageways and hidden tunnels. The park also had a long slide too, but unfortunately the rollers were stuck. We went to several famous places around the Noto I'd never been before, including "Battleship Rock" and Sojiji Temple.

For dinner in Noto-cho we were served by the same cook who made food for the Emperor when he stayed at Kagaya Onsen! He gave us a dish of crab legs, on the house, which were perfectly split in half so you didn't have to struggle to scoop the meat out. We did so much more that weekend, all thanks to Olivia being such a wonderful hostess. Thank you!!


Last Monday I went to Asahi for the retiring/transferring teachers' farewell ceremony. I joked with the math teacher, helped carry one English teacher's three large bouquets to her car, and caused my usual mischief with the students (i.e. switching the shoes in the student genkan).

And then... I said goodbye for the last time, to all of them. For some reason when I left this job in August it didn't hit me as hard as this time around; I know I won't be back. In a few years, Asahi Junior High won't even exist, since many schools are being consolidated due to the drastic population drop.

Later that week, another former English teacher and I went down to Kanazawa together. We visited the art museum to view a coworker's award-winning sculpture of his daughter titled, "Shell." It's message was to encourage people, especially those who are junior high school age, to break out of their "shell" and not be afraid to express themselves. Exactly the kind of positive message these kids need, I think!

Afterwards, we headed to Kenrokuen to view the budding cherry blossoms. Has it truly been two years since I first saw them? なつかし〜

Time is passing as quickly as ever – I am exactly halfway through this year of traveling around the world. Can it be? It feels like I've just begun, and yet adventures like SCUBA diving in Fiji seem so far away it couldn't have been the same trip... yet it was!

I have one week left in Japan, then I'm back on the traveler's trail of Southeast Asia. I feel like I don't have to try and soak up all these moments in Ishikawa because they're already a part of me. In that respect, when the time comes, I won't have to say goodbye. Rather, またね!

Sunset over Kanazawa (no filter)

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