I made it to Japan! Crazy it‘s been over 3 years. Trying to speak business Japanese again I feel my lack of practice acutely. However, it is excellent training for my potential tour guide job in Las Vegas next summer.
The entire train ride to Nagano I stared out the window and thought back on all of my memories here. So much of my life was lived in and is shaped by this place, maybe without me even realizing it. Growing up I lived between two worlds, now I live between three but that doesn`t mean I don`t still feel connected here.
On the way to Tokyo I got a first class ticket on my grandma`s stand-by passes, which definitely eased the transition. I couldn`t help but compare my luxurious wine-sipping and almond-munching journey to some other not so first-class trips I`ve taken recently, namely taking buses across 5 African countries. Both were memorable in very different ways. If the journey is the point my African travels were doubtlessly more fruitful. If it`s about staying alive, my Japanese trip was probably a better choice. I think I like something in-between.
In many ways, I feel like December was sort of a microcosm of my new, somewhat whimsical life. I started the month in Kenya, finishing my research on greenhouses and aquaponics in Nairobi. I then returned to the US for two weeks to pack my things and move back home before traveling to Cabo with my family. And on the 31st, I arrived in Japan where I`m working at a hotel for two months. I`ve been thinking and praying for a while now about how I bridge the gap between these distinct (and far) places that are all so important to me. I haven`t found the solution, but for now I`m getting to go back and forth between all of them.
In Japan, I`m working at the front desk of a hotel within walking distance of a ski resort. The hotel is in Shiga Kogen, a really cool national park/ski resort complex where they held a lot of the Olympic events in 98. Since I have a 4-hour break in the middle of the day, I`ve taken advantage of my free season pass and gone snowboarding 3 out of the last 4 days. The snow is excellent and as you can see, the views are stunning. I`m learning that working in a hotel is a lot of work, but the people are great and I`m learning customer service from the best: The Japanese. Life is good, I can`t complain.
I have to say one more thing before I close. Tomorrow my greatest childhood nightmare comes to life. A group of 300 Japanese high schoolers is descending on our hotel and I am the only foreigner within a several mile radius. I`m sure there will be ooing and ahhing by high school girls and I`ll be treated somewhere between a celebrity and a junior high crush. I really hated that as a kid. Now I can take it all with a grain of salt and have some fun.