My time here is coming to an end. It is amazing how time flies so quickly, both when you are having fun and when you’re not. If you ask me, this period of time was perhaps too short to learn a language, yet it is also the longest time ever if you were just doing absolutely nothing.
The last few days have been a whirl of homework, studying, memorising and packing. Between a grammar exam and 2 10 minute presentations to prep for, I was a little flat out. Still, I managed to get the tough bit of my luggage packed – how to squeeze a thousand things into one small lugggage.
However, there were a few regrets, of course. I wished I planned my time and money here better, so I could have enjoyed this a lot better. I wished too that I actually went through with some of my plans here, instead of lounging around, worried about some stuff. As I mentioned before, I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to come. As I started packing my bags, the one thing I was really glad about was that I didn’t have to do this in Australia – pack my bags to go back to Singapore.
Minoh and Osaka has truly grown on me. The people here have been more than helpful and friendly, Osaka people are so warm and friendly that sometimes it borders on the line of craziness! Why would you invite a complete stranger home?!
But can I live here? One of the people I met in my journeys here asked me if I would ever come here to work and live here for the rest of my life. My answer back then and even now, I think, is still largely the same. I love Japan as a whole and it has plenty to offer me and me to her. However, I am not quite sure if I can keep pace with the life here. There are also so many social norms that I stress to remember on a daily basis, and wondered if I had broke any in every single encounter. I can’t imagine doing that for the rest of my life, although perhaps if I stay here longer, my tune might change.
There are a few things that really stand out to me about Japan, especially living here after a short while. The amount of completely conflicting issues really baffles me.
Firstly, the thing about wasting. You see a lot of posters, letters, notes and so on reminding people not to waste, showing them ways to not waste (especially in terms of rubbish) and encouraging people to really work on their rubbish separation to cut down on wastes and makes recycling easier and so on. Tonnes of information and action.
Then you get slapped with a thousand plastic bags where ever you go. Initially I started collecting them to basically reused as in-house trash bags to be letter combined when I used their burnables trash bag. After a while, it just got ridiculous and I threw out nearly a whole burnable bag worth of plastic bags themselves!
Secondly, cleanliness. People often talk about how beautiful Singapore is and how CLEAN. Come to the housing blocks, especially the old ones, you had be wondering where the cleanliness went and where the smell is coming from (hint, it’s not the rubbish area). Coming to Japan, I have seen housewives wipe down balconies with sanitising wipes, bordering nearly on an OCD level. On the roads, it’s usually clean except on trash collection day, then there are neat piles of bags either by the side of the roads or inside the collection area. Furthermore, I have even seen old ladies forcing their dogs to squat into poo bags so they won’t be pooping on the ground.
Go to a public toilet in some outlying area, and the stench just overwhelms you, with overflowing bins and incredibly wet floor – I don’t even want to think why it’s wet.
Perhaps, the most infamous and interesting conflicting things of all, is how the modern co-exists with the old, classy side of Japan. It still amazes me how people still live in old, wooden houses, modelled and built in an era long gone by, and they watch plasma TVs in side there. Or, dressed to the hilt in Kimono, and they are tapping furiously away on their mobile phones. More interestingly, how teachers can co-exist in schools that has some of the best robotics programs, and not know how to use computers.
As with anything in this world, Japan has its own good and bad side. Those were not the bad stuff, but the stuff to remember that with everything, there’s something there you might not like. And it just so happens, those are the very thing I will miss about Japan too!
Of course, I will also miss the endless opportunities to visit cultural things. The opportunities to do be a part of this society that is far different from my Australian and Singaporean one.
But, I do miss my home, my bed and my job. It had be nice to be back being all independent and having an INCOME.