March 30, 2009

Farewell Japan, Hello Florida!

The view you see above is the one I saw every day for the past 4 years.  It was the view from my 11th floor Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan apartment.  It was a view I paid a lot to have.  To me, it was totally worth it.  It was the last of many places I called home while spending the past 9 years abroad in Asia.  I first lived in Pusan, South Korea.  After 3 years in various cities in that country, and several trips to southeast Asia, I took a 2 month pilgrimage in New Zealand before settling on my final Asian destination:  Japan.  That country was my home for the last 6 years, a period of time so long I came to believe I never actually had any other home and it was perfectly normal for me to be living in a place where I could not read any sign nor talk to any person.  Though I thought it was forever, like all things, it was impermanent and lo, I have returned to Florida and my mind is still processing everything from my decade abroad.

I will not go into full detail here of my decade abroad (perhaps that will be a book someday) but just give a brief summary of the recent present.  But do not expect any sweeping conclusions or grand insights about Asia, for it almost already feels like I have closed that chapter in my mind as it once again bends toward the West.

I had a good farewell to Japan and Asia in general.  I spent the last month there living in Aya’s parents’ home with them.  I visited all my favorite Tokyo spots for the last time and ate at all my favorite restaurants saying farewell to the waiters and waitresses that knew what I wanted without me having to say anything.  

I spent my final day in Tokyo simply:  hanging out in Yoyogi Park with a few friends.  My last night in Tokyo there were no LOST IN TRANSLATION moments of any kind.  I felt nothing really.  

Then after enduring the horror that is air travel I was back in the Sunshine State, back to where I lived the majority of my life, back to where I had escaped from 9 years earlier, back in Florida.  

And that’s that.  

I had two farewell parties in Tokyo, one smaller one for just a group of students who were like family to me while I was in Japan, and then a large one where all friends and students past and present were invited, as well as Aya’s friends.  I was very flattered that over 50 people attended that one.  

I will let the photos below do the talking for how those farewell parties went.  

And as for the future of Jack-in, well, I still have some things to post on Japan about, and my fiancee/wife is Japanese after all, but undoubtedly things will take on a much more Florida tone besides all the usual movie and TV reviews and sports stats reports.


Yours truly trying on some new Japanese threads This is possibly the best gift I have ever gotten, a plastic model ice cream cone Totally going to meet up with Pacman and make it rain down on South Beach!
The whole doctor's clinic staff who I taught for over 5 years. Traci is the super friendly & generous owner of The Pink Cow site of our farewell party My former Hosei University students, the girls went to Florida with me in 2003
Two of my favorite long-time Friday night Nakano group lesson students Yoko, my long time translation/proofreading colleague and employer Me and the Hosei students again
Genny of the big laugh and Aya and Genny's mom Aya and her best friend and her husband, they snowboarded together As we drove from the airport in Florida, this is the first site we were greeted with, not too bad, eh?
Boom, just like that 9 years in Asia over and back to Tampa! Saw this sunset driving back from a failed used car purchase Our sweet 2006 Saturn Vue V6 in black in front of Terry's house
The interior of our Saturn Vue Aya getting used to American size food portions! Boom!  All the desserts you could ever possibly want available everywhere!  This is delicious fudge
My brother in a new mohawk and his kids and a random kid in a black t-shirt Aya is back in the Apple family!  Painless process buying a Mac, the only competent business in Florida so far The Everglades as seen from the side of the famed highway,
This flower was just one on an entire large tree in bloom in Ft. Myers near my mom's house One of Terry's three dogs, Cullie, a very calm, old dalmatian Visiting my old friend Ann's property that has horses on it!
Yours truly already in a borrowed kayak!    

Filed under Featured, Florida, Japan