I never thought I would say this, but Japan is starting to feel more and more like home to me. I’ve always been a bit of a contradiction in terms of travelling. I’m a serious homebody, with serious wanderlust. This can sometimes make trekking the globe a little tricky. So, I was more than a little surprised when I found myself missing certain things form Japan when I visited my hometown over Christmas. Some I expected, and some I definitely didn’t.
The big one. I think this works wherever you are in the world. When I’m in Japan, I miss British food, and when I’m in the UK, I miss Japanese food. The top contenders were CocoIchiBanYa Curry House, and シーチケンマヨネイズ onigiri (Or tuna mayo rice ball if you don’t speak Japanese). Two absolute staples of my diet. That curry has got me through a lot of bad hangovers in my time. The first meal back in Japan was straight to Coco’s. On top of this, I missed the beautiful presentation that every meal comes with here. It’s very rare for you to find any plate of food that isn’t meticulously arranged here. I also missed the amazing convenience of walking downstairs to the konbini and grabbing a meal or snack.
2. Recycle Bins
Strange as it sounds, it made me a little uncomfortable putting my plastic bottles into ordinary rubbish bins when I was walking around in the UK. I know that recycling is important, and it’s great to do, but it usually irritates me if I can only find PET bottle bins when I need to throw away a chocolate bar wrapper. But, it turns out, I actually like recycling now. Who’d have thought?
3. Living alone
I mean, this one wasn’t so much of a surprise. Living alone is amazing. Moving back into your parents home along with your two older brothers for 2 weeks – not as much. It was nice having my meals cooked for me – don’t get me wrong! But, that lovely feeling you get when you come home, lock the door and collapse on your bed/sofa – cannot be beat! And I absolutely love my little Japanese apartment. The fact that the whole thing is packed neatly into one room, is actually surprisingly cozy and homely. I think I even prefer it to the airy, sprawling apartments you find back in the UK.
Britain – Why is it so difficult for you to run trains on time? I went to visit friends on the train, and never even considered that my train might not be on time. I’m just not used to that anymore! Luckily, I was only delayed about 10 minutes (each way, mind you) so it didn’t affect my plans too much. I’m not the only one who feels this way about the differences between Japanese and British train systems though – check out this Comedy award winning stand up from a Japanese comedienne living in the UK – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p038ngtz
Now I know Japan isn’t perfect – nowhere is, but I never realised just how beautifully clean it is until I took a stroll through Bolton Town Centre. Here in Kyoto, I often see volunteers walking along the riverbank, picking up rubbish, and people generally holding onto their rubbish until they find a bin. Not quite as much back in Blighty I’m afraid! I even worked for an after school English school’s Halloween party, where we had a cleaning patrol all in our costumes. We walked around near the school picking up rubbish and practicing our English!