Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Departure Difficulty.

Leaving Japan proved to be more stressful than anything.  I didn’t have time to enjoy my last hours in Suginami-ku before heading for the airport because all I was worried about was packing and making sure my apartment was clean.  On the seventh we had a check of the apartment to make sure it was cleaned to the standards of two Japanese women (Dean Inou and Morimizato-sensei) and they were hard to please.  We were given a long list separated by room on what needed to be cleaned and how it needed to be cleaned, sometimes including which cleaner to use.  I envy the boys rooms in that they had more hands to help with the cleaning while I was by myself to do my whole apartment.  However, I do not envy them in that they seemed to be having the most troubles.  Out of our four rooms I got the “silver medal” according to Moromizato-sensei meaning that one of the guys rooms was cleaned and up to par before me, and I’m okay with that.  I’m sure my room would have gotten the gold had there been more girls to go over everything.

After my apartment was up to standards and I passed out for a couple of hours, I started to stress over the second leg of the cleaning/packing race.  I did not realize how much stuff I had until I was still trying to pack it or get rid of it literally minutes before we were going to leave, which was difficult considering the Japanese trash system I explained in an earlier post.  I couldn’t just toss everything I wanted to get rid of in one big trash bag and toss it out.  I had to sort, rinse, and properly separate all of my “garbage”, and Ms. Inou was there in the trash room to make sure we did everything right, even sending me back to my room when I hadn’t properly sorted or washed thoroughly enough.  That is one thing I will not miss about Japan.

When I did get everything crammed into my two large suitcases, one smaller carry on, and one backpack it was quite a task to get to the airport.  First, I had to get all of my bags downstairs.  Fortunately, the apartment has an elevator that I was able to use on my two trips down.  Then, we had to walk everything over to the school so we could get a group photo.  Next, we had to make the trek to Ogikubo station.  It’s not usually a hassle getting to the station because you can just go down Kyoukai-dori, cross the main intersection, and turn a corner.  However, when you have a group of ten people with all their bursting at the seams bags rolling down a narrow, cobblestone road it can be slow (and very loud) goings.  We were creating a suitcase symphony for a not quite appreciating public.  

Once we got to Ogikubo station, we had to get all of our bags downstairs, through the gates, then back upstairs to the platform and onto a train to go down two stations.  it was at Kichijoji station that we had the most problems.  We got off the train on the first floor and needed to get down to the first floor.  The easiest way for us to do that would be to take the elevator.  However, the elevator would always stop at the third floor first and get full before coming back down to the second floor and then the first floor.  Because of this, it was hard for us to get all of us downstairs with all of our bags in a timely manner thus making us miss the 10:00am highway bus to Narita that Mineyama-sensei wanted us to catch literally by a couple of minutes.  Because of this, we had to wait for the 11:30 one instead which wasn’t really a bad thing because it gave us time to catch our breath and get something to drink.  Once we got to the airport, we were able to say our goodbyes although most people were going the same direction.  I even ended up in the same terminal as one of my classmates, though he was on a different flight.

The last thing that I ate in Japan was an onigiri with umeboshi filling.  I think it was an appropriate ending to my stay in Japan.  Red and white like the flag, it symbolized an end of a journey and an end of a way of life that I’d gotten used to and I’m going to miss.  But, that’s for my next post when I’ll give my final thoughts on my adventure in the land of the rising sun. 

Goodbye Japan.

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