I decided that the best way to battle my homesick funk wasn’t to wallow in self pity and loneliness, but to appreciate where I am. When my students are especially bad, and I don’t have plans for my Wednesday night, its easy to forget how lucky I am. This has been an amazing experience and I wouldn’t trade it for all the Chipotle Burritos in the world, bad days included. To focus on the good rather than bad I have decided to put together a list of my ten favorite things about Japan. Here’s the first installment:
10. Trains: Before moving to Japan I have never really used public transportation. That quickly changed in Okayama when trains and buses became my primary form of transportation. I couldn’t have picked a better place to learn about riding the rails. The trains in Japan are amazing. They run on time so consistently that you could set your watch to them. Considering the massive amount of people that ride commuter trains they are clean and safe to ride at any time. (*disclaimer- there is one major drawback, most trains stop running around midnight, even in Tokyo, so that means that nights on the town have to end before midnight or aim for the sunrise…) Then there’s the Shinkansen or Bullet train, the single greatest way to travel. It may not be as fast a a plane but there’s tons more leg room and you don’t have to bother with the whole security checked baggage thing. You can buy a ticket and be on a train in 10 minutes, I’ve done it. Shinkansen even has it’s own kawaii little character.
9. Green Tea: I was a fan of the stuff before coming here, but my love was taken to a whole new level here in Nihon. Its not just because its everywhere, but green tea actually tastes different here. It is much more delicate and almost sweet. Not at all super healthy tasting and bitter like it usually is in the states. I think its because its made differently, the water isn’t boiling and it is only steeped for 30 secs rather than being left in boiling water for 5+ mins. Now that’s is summer I’ve been known to drink almost a liter a day….its hot here.
8. Covenie’s: I’ve expressed my love for them in a previous post, but they really are a life saver. Where else can you buy dinner, travel snacks, freshly fried chicken, airplane tickets, and underwear? I don’t even think Wal-Mart can say that. I’ve gotten into the 100 yen snack bags, discovering the mini donuts, chocolate cheese puff stars, kakipea, and not so tasty squid jerky. Squid jerky aside, I may not have lasted this long in Japan without the warm glow of the Lawson’s down the street.