Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Sorry for getting this post out so late.
However, if there is anything I’m grateful for this year, it’s getting the opportunity to study abroad in Japan. I returned home seven days ago, but according to Gregorian calendars, I returned six days ago. I crossed the international date line and gained an hour and a day back.
And, of course, I gained so much more that I will miss.
November 17, 2015: Lounging and Luggage
With my finals done, there was nothing to do for me but relax and pack. I would have Netflixed and chilled, but I don’t have a subscription, and Japan was cold enough as it was.
Packing was a lot less stressful, thanks to packing and organizing in small bits. But it was still stressful in some parts. Playing tetris with the same pieces and new pieces (read: cool Japanese stuff) I bought.
Thankfully, that stressed ebbed away when I went with friends.
November 18, 2015: The Swallowtail Cafe and the Pokemon Center
I felt like a princess and a girl in one day, and this day was that one day.
I went to the Swallowtail Cafe with my roommate, my friend M, and my roommate’s friend, N, and…
As much as I wish I could have taken pictures, since I wasn’t allowed to, I’m glad that I didn’t anyway. I know it’s an advertising technique, but it makes it much more memorable.
Several nice looking butlers were at the gorgeous tables, pouring our tea, taking our orders, and escorting us to and from our tables. From the moment I stepped inside, I was transported back to Victorian England, enjoying salmon quiche and sipping Catherine Rose tea. I got to practice my Japanese, though thankfully the menu was in English.
Apart from that, it was an expensive, themed restaurant, and in spite of the price, I was not disappointed in the slightest. It was also worth it for the acting and atmosphere. They all played their parts well. And they made us feel utterly special.
Once we were finished, my roommate and her friend left to a nail appointment. Alone, M and I looked around Higashi-Ikeburo. I remember a dorm-mate talking about the Pokemon Center in Sunshine City, which had been in Ikebukuro, so we tried to find it.
Turns out Sunshine City is a giant mall, and inside resides the Pokemon center.
Tons of Pokemon memorabilia, keychains, pajamas, action figures, the soundtrack, the games— If you are a Pokemon fan (which I am), you will be very happy here.
Since I was a Pokemon fan, I was truly happy to reconnect with my childhood. I am really glad I got to actually go to a Japanese Pokemon store and not just a specialty store.
November 19, 2015: Packed Everything
More lounging, more packing. What can you do?
November 20, 2015: One Last Hang-Out
For one last hangout, my roommate took me to a pet store. Well, a pet store within a store like Home Depot called “J-Mart”. They have pet grooming services and puppies for sale at the store.
And I got to hold the cutest maltese poodle. He was extremely young, and extremely scared, but after a while, he warmed up to me and my roommate.
Also, slight PSA.
As much as I love puppies, I’d much rather purchase them from a licensed breeder or an animal shelter. For one, it’s less expensive, and the pet industry can be very cruel. I know quite a bit about the puppy mills in the US, but I don’t know of anything like that in Japan. I couldn’t have bought any puppies I saw there if I tried. I was going back to the United States in less than twenty-four hours.
But I will not deny the cuteness of any puppy, nor the joy of that day. I am so grateful my roommate thought to take me there. It’s only renewed my interest in having a dog even more once I get a job.
Afterwards, I moved out of my dorm, had dinner with two friends I gained abroad, and settled into Hotel Mets to begin the final leg of my journey.
November 21, 2015: Getting Home
I’m also grateful that, despite my injured knee (which has healed very well so far—I’m going to a doctor to pinpoint the cause soon), I made it back home in one piece.
I woke to toast, salad, yogurt, tea, and crab tomato soup at the Excelsior Cafe, complements of Hotel Mets at Musashisakai. Then I made the trek to Tokyo station, and Narita Airport via the Narita Express. I got to the airport hours earlier than my flight, which was very smart on my part. I kept getting confused as to what to do and who to talk to, a de javu of my first time coming here.
But I quickly got over myself, and had hours to spare before my flight.
Anxiety disorder has it perks. It makes me plan very well.
I slept most of the flight to save my energy. It didn’t help a whole lot since it was night in Japan, and I was confusing my body’s circadian rhythm.
I am grateful for my parents understanding that the first meal I’d want after stepping foot in Los Angeles was one without rice. I’d eaten so much of it in Japan, and while I liked it, it… got tiring after three months. Biting inside a beefy cheeseburger and feeling the mayonnaise on my tongue made me grateful for being back home.
Don’t get me wrong. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to study abroad. But I don’t deny the taste of a good cheeseburger, or carnitas, or California food in general. I am grateful for the culture I’ve experience, and the culture I’ve returned to.
And I’m not saying that just because it’s Thanksgiving. I am truly grateful.
I am also grateful to you, readers, for keeping up with my journey via this blog. This is by no means the end of all my journeys. There are more to come.
And always, thank you.