Travel Journal of my Time in Japan

Back to list of entries

July 25, 2006

Looking Back on my Time in Japan
I've been going through this online journal and tightening up the writing, adding photographs, cleaning up the design (now that I have the web resources to do that). This cleaning process has been an interesting experience because it has brought my Japan memories to the front of my mind. I'm recalling more clearly who I was before I went, and who I was when I returned. Needless to say, my time in Japan changed me a great deal. I learned so much about the power of culture, what it is to be American, I've learned what makes us alike, what makes us different, what makes us simply human, and so much more.

No Disappointments
I went to Japan because I'd always wanted to live and work in another culture. I believed that the challenges of such an experience had to cause a person to grow. I didn't know how exactly I would grow, but I knew I would. I didn't know how exactly it would be challenging, but I knew it would be. I didn't know exactly what experiences I would have, but I knew they would be interesting. I wasn't disappointed in any way.

No Regrets
Also, many of the entries include paragraphs about whether I should renew my annual contract or not. From where I sit now, I don't regret my decision to not renew because as it turned out, my mom died suddenly only a little over a year after I returned to the US. I can't imagine being in another country when she died.

As it turned out, I returned to the U.S. two and a half months before my first contract ended because my mom decided to move into a much smaller apartment that didn't accept pets. Some of my things were in her apartment, and she was looking after Julie, my goofy cat. My mom was planning to move out in June. My things and my cat could stay in the apartment until the lease was up in August, but she wouldn't be there much, so Julie would be alone a lot. And if I finished the contract I would only have two weeks to make arrangements for my things once I got back. So then the question became should I even finish my original contract or not. At the time it was a difficult decision to make, but in the end I decided I needed to be in the US to take care of my cat and make arrangements for my things. And I don't regret not completing my original contract because it took me two months to clear out the apartment and make arrangements for all my things - and some of my mom's things. I didn't put an entry up here about my decision to return early, because I wanted to surprise everyone. :-)

Life Since Japan
I can't help noticing that my life's circumstances (challenges) since I returned to the US have lead to even more personal growth - learning and personal growth to an extent that I never could have anticipated. As I re-read these entries, it seemed clear to me that if I were to re-live my time in Japan now, it would be very different in many ways. In fact, I'm still re-adjusting to the changes and growth from (and since) my time in Japan. Luckily, I'm getting settled in Chicago and I'll have time to rest my spirit and get used to it all.

Connections to Japan
Going through the photos, seeing familiar faces and recalling memories felt very good. Three years later I am still in touch with many of my Japanese friends... not all, but many - and I'm glad about that. :-)

Masatoshi and Reiko came to visit me in December 2003, when I was living in Salt Lake City. The photo to the right is all of us having dinner in downtown Salt Lake City. I hope they will visit again because Masatoshi travels around the world for his work. He is a research scientist.

I met Reiji (one of the three gentlemen) for hiking and camping in Death Valley National Park in early September 2005. He was living in Los Angeles and I was living in Salt Lake City - and Death Valley was in the middle! The photo below is us at the top of a mountain looking down into the salt flats in the valley. Man, it was hot!

Mariko planned a trip to Chicago thinking I would be there, but I couldn't get there. :-( Maybe once I'm settled in Chicago, more Japan friends will come to visit me. I plan to extend direct invitations now that I will finally have a guest bedroom. :-) Or maybe one day I will return to Japan and visit them. We'll see. For right now, I need to stay in one place and catch up from all my travels and challenges in recent years.

back to top