Our last day on the Shinkansen took us to Kyoto. We spent the day touring various temples, seeing a dry rock garden, and looking at the magnificent colors of the leaves. Kyoto is known for the red maple trees of autumn and we caught the start of it. We also met an engineer from Boston on the bus and joined him for some of the sightseeing. It was a great day full of classic Japanese architecture and a bit of a return to typical tourist destinations. Today, though, I want to write more about our imminent departure to Rome and our exit from this beautiful country.
Staying in one place for as long as we’ve been in Osaka is both good and bad. On one hand, it’s been great to settle and not have to pack/move all the time and get to know some folks. With that level of comfort and knowledge comes a greater difficulty in finally moving on. We will miss Osaka, and Japan as a whole, very much. It’s become a second home for us.
There are a few things in Japanese culture that I will miss specifically. Anytime you enter or leave a restaurant, the entire staff yells greetings or thank you. People are EVERYWHERE, but they are polite and kind. We’ve gotten into a small gift war with a local waitress whose establishment we’ve frequented and I will miss her smiling face. The few times (too few, if you ask Indi) we’ve gone to karaoke I’ve had a splendid time. The public transportation system is ubiquitous and simple. Although I’ve not understood a majority of what’s printed on menus, everything I have eaten has been delicious.
People come up and talk to me just to practice English. They are also genuinely curious about my reasons for travel and want to know what the world is like where I’m from. An old Japanese lady gave me a piece of candy on the subway just to be nice. Fellow guests at the J&F House seem near tears when I tell them it’s about time for us to go, even if we’ve only had one or two conversations. Everyone is dressed stylishly at all times. Oh, and I haven’t heard a cell phone ring in public once, yet everyone is using their phones constantly.
Part of me wants to stay longer. Part of me wishes I’d left weeks ago. The wanderlust inside me that has become obvious over the last week makes me wonder how well I’ll be able to settle down back home. Indi and I have talked about our plans when we get home, and I definitely would like to get to college and get a degree. I would like to further develop my photography and perhaps a minor in journalism. I have enjoyed writing immensely and would like to be able to write better.
If you have not been able to keep up with the Flickr page (just over 6,000 pictures now!) I’ve started a collection on the Facebook Fan page and on Picasa that summarizes the locations we’ve been to over our travels. I’ve embedded it below for your enjoyment.