With the spring comes the end of another school term in Japan.
And with that came the decision I’d have to make about whether I’d stay on another year or not. While a part of me would love to continue on for another year, the rest of me knows that it’s time to move on.
There were many great things about living here, and the job was fun, but it’s no secret that teaching English in Japan is not a great long-term deal. So while I’d love to stay, I’d also love to go home. I haven’t seen my family in two years, and it’s about time I paid them a visit.
In a week I’ll move out from the apartment I’ve lived in for the last two years, here in a small city in Nagano Prefecture. I’ll spend a little over a week in Tokyo (giving me the opportunity to see all of the cherry blossoms there for the third year in a row) before leaving Japan.
Saying goodbye is never easy, and I’ve been reminded of that too many times in the past week.
The friends I’ve made,
the teachers I worked with,
the students I taught and often messed around with,
the schools I visited every week,
the classes I attended every other week,
the beautiful mountains that can be seen from just about anywhere here,
the city, restaurants, and places that I frequented,
the culture, the food, the mannerisms,
the people, the language,
the memories, experiences,
and much more.
The thought “this is the last time I’ll ever do this” has been constantly crossing my mind, for just about everything. And that’ll continue until I board the plane at Narita Airport.
Last week was graduation, and it was a really sad day. I’d call it bittersweet, but in reality, it was much more bitter than sweet.
And not just for me, as in Japan every year teachers are often moved around from school to school, meaning they also have to say goodbye to the school; their coworkers, the students, the memories. While I managed to say my goodbye speech to the school without crying (I’ll admit it was close though), many other teachers couldn’t hold their tears back during their own speeches. And many students were emotional as well.
A year is both a very long time, and a very short time.
If living here has taught me anything, it’s that.
You can do so much in a year, but you have to actually make yourself go out and do things. Because whether you do or not, before you know it, the year will be over. Or in this case, two years.
I’m glad I came here with the mindset that I would say “yes” to more things, and try to go out and do more things. It’s thanks to that that I can go home satisfied that I didn’t squander my time here, and it’s thanks to that that I can go home and try to keep it up there.
You know, despite living within a few hours of Niagara Falls for most of my life, I’ve only been there once, as a kid. And there are many places I’ve never really checked out. From restaurants to parks to whatever. I’d like to go out and do more.
It feels like just the other day I was in Tokyo for the first time, ready to start a new chapter of my life in Japan. Now I’m just about to leave. Soon enough, Japan will be just another memory.
I’m really appreciative to have been placed here in Nagano. I’ve made some amazing friends, and had some great experiences with them. I’m appreciative that I was essentially able to do whatever I wanted in these two years; corona was never really an issue here, and wearing a mask was basically the extent of things.
And I got a nice taste of “inaka life” here. While there are certainly towns that are much more “inaka” than where I’ve been living, I think it’s neat to have lived here. I’ve never lived in a big city like Tokyo, and that certainly seems like it’d be interesting, but I also don’t know how much I’d enjoy living in a concrete jungle.
While I can’t say for certain, it’s a possibility that I’ll never live somewhere as beautiful as this ever again in this life. Being able to see the mountains on a regular basis is a blessing in itself, and while my eyes aren’t as glued to them as they were when I first moved here, I still appreciate them greatly. Just the other day there was a beautiful sight in which there was a perfect layer of fluffy clouds just below the mountaintops, making it look like the mountains had shot up right through them.
My nice ol’ kotatsu is gone now, leaving me using one of my luggage bags as a makeshift desk for my laptop. I’ll miss all the evenings spent relaxing under the thick and fluffy blanket with the warmth from the kotatsu. But then, to be fair, I also miss sitting on couches, too, which I haven’t done in a long time haha.
I’m going to rate living in Nagano, Japan for these two years a 10 / 10.
For what it was, it’s been an amazing experience.
Anyways, I could ramble on with some actual specifics instead of all these general statements, but maybe I’ll write about more specific topics in the future. I’d like to write about this city, how a day in the job would typically go, what my daily life was like, perhaps the classes I attended, or whatever else I come up with.
I’ve also got pictures from several trips I took in the past year that I never shared here, so I’ll get to that soon hopefully.
Thanks for reading.