After two years, plenty of laughs and more food and alcohol than I care to imagine, the time has come for me to leave Japan.
It’s an idea that I’ve been toying with since the turn of the year and around March time I decided that I felt like moving on. At the end of July I said goodbye to my students, finished up at work and will be leaving the country on August 21st!
There’s not one specific reason for leaving, more a number of small reasons that all added up.
I feel like two years is a good length of time to spend in a country. A year didn’t really feel like I’d scratched the surface – the novelty factor was still well and truly alive and it kind of felt like an extended holiday. After a second year without the novelty factor, I’m feeling satisfied that I’ve lived it and can move on. I’m leaving after two years with good memories, although I’m not sure a third year of Tokyo commuting would have left me feeling quite as positive.
The day to day life in Tokyo is another reason for my departure. Tokyo’s a great city, and Japan is a beautiful country, it really is. But after two years I’m at the point where I don’t want to spend my commute to work buried in the armpit of a salaryman’s white shirt, or having to jostle for position at the train station, or be forever slaloming around people walking and scrolling Facebook at the same time. Not that I was ever keen to do this, but I’m just done with it.
Finally, there’s the distance factor. I’ve spent the best part of the last three or four years away from family and friends. I’ve not seen my best mates for going on two years – usually because I’ve decided not to go home during the long Christmas holidays – but still, that’s a factor too.
So here’s the exciting part (for me anyway!). I’ve accepted a job in north Spain – Durango, in the Basque Country – to be exact! I’ll be there from the end of September until the middle of next year at least.
I’ll be teaching English again, this time in a much smaller school, and certainly in a much smaller town. The population of Durango is under 30,000, quite a contrast from the 10 million plus people in Tokyo!
It’ll be a real culture shock. I currently have countless 24 hour convenience stores, a train station and an entire town’s worth of shops within a five minute walk from my apartment. Basically, whatever I want at the moment, I can get without travelling.
Truth be told, I have absolutely no idea what to expect or how easy it’ll be to adapt, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, I’m just enjoying my last week or so in Japan and looking forward to upcoming trips to Italy, Lanzarote and, of course, good old England.
So sayounara, Japan. It’s been a pleasure, but it’s time for a change.