October 11, 2008: “Day #9: Matane Japan”

Narita International Airport, Terminal 1 depar...

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Saturday, October 11, 2008: “Day #9: Matane Japan

Konnichiwa!

Today we wrapped up loose ends.  I mailed back a total of nine packages and Lisa is mailing my 10th package back next week for me.  I can’t believe I did that much shopping!

Tonight we went to dinner with our friend and her two children.  We went out for Korean BBQ and you cook the meat on a grill at your table.  It was quite an interesting experience and the food was delicious.  Afterward, Lisa and I went to Ebina and bought a “Crazy Crepe.”  They are all the rage over here.  A fresh crepe filled with ice cream and fresh whipped cream.  They are absolutely to die for!  Ironically with how much food I have eaten, I think I have lost a little weight because of all the walking we have done!

A couple of interesting facts that I don’t think I shared with you so far (and if I did, I apologize).  First, the Japanese cabs’ doors automatically open for you!  Second, Japan has a large population of stray cats and the customary belief is that if you set out bottles of water it will keep the cats away.  I’m not sure if that works or not … but I have seen a lot of bottled water at cemeteries.

I depart from Tokyo Narita bound for Seattle at 5:30PM JST tomorrow (Sunday).  I return to Seattle at 10:09AM PST on Sunday.  That will officially make Sunday, October 12th the longest day of my life!  I have taken nearly 300 pictures of my experiences and journeys through Japan.  Once I return home I plan on compiling the photos into a slide-show online so I can share them with you.  I must warn you – no matter how beautiful a photo of Japan may be, there is nothing that can compare to the experience of immersing yourself in their culture.

I am sad that my time in Japan is coming to a close.  I love Japan.  The customs and culture here fascinate me.  I would really love to visit in the spring again.  I wish in America we were as polite and held our customs and culture as close to our hearts as they do here in Japan.  It has been an amazing experience to visit a country that is safe.  At no time have I felt threatened in any public places, be it day or night.

Lisa has been an amazing tour guide and we have visited some utterly incredible places – some among the most beautiful on earth.  I want to thank Lisa for sharing this wonderful country with me.  Had she not been stationed in Atsugi, I never would have experienced Japan.

Japan has remained somewhat secluded from the world.  Its preserved customs and culture are awe-inspiring to me.  While some Western culture is slowly creeping into their society via the younger generation, I sincerely hope with all my heart that Japan still preserves their heritage and traditions – it is what makes them unique and sets them apart in a world where people have forgotten the meaning of being grateful and showing sincere appreciation and gratitude.

Being in Japan has given me a new appreciation for life.  It has made me grateful for what I have.  I want to thank all my family and friends for being there for me and for supporting me in my life.  I humbly bow and say, “Domo arigato gozaimasu” – the most sincere form of thanks expressed in the Japanese culture.

I do not want to say “sayonara” (“goodbye”) to Japan but yet I would prefer to leave saying “matane” (“until we meet again”).

Japanese Pay Phone

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