Monday, 2 August 2010

Sayonara teaparty

My final evening in Marugame was the most perfect I could have hoped for. Tea and cake at my favourite cafe, making memories with perfect polaroids, thoughtful friends documenting the night with their super duper camera skills,tucked away bars, presents a-plenty and late night yo-yo shows. What a lovely way to say goodbye to the little town that became my home this year.

Uzu tea and Shin made the best cake I have ever tasted; green tea cheesecake. It was heaven...


Friday, 30 July 2010

This is too hard.

This week has been a difficult one. I haven't been able to sleep at all, and I've been crying at every little thing. I went to close my bank account yesterday. The clerk stamped each of the remaining pages of my bank book with a 'void' stamp and it made me burst into tears. Admittedly, this was a really ridiculous thing to do and I am extraordinarily sentimental, but it makes me sad to be doing every little thing, even the most mundane tasks, for the final time.

I am heart broken at the thought of having to leave. I felt homesick for so much of my time here, and longed to be back in London, but now that it is time for me to go, I realise how much of a life I made for myself here. I don't want to turn this into a rambling, self reflective post, but I had a long think yesterday about what it is that I am going to go back to and the kind of life I aspire to have in London. I want to have a carefree time there; I want to move out, have enough money to be able to make the most of my city and take every opportunity to try new things, make new friends, meet someone lovely and have different experiences. It's easier said than done; London is a hard city to crack; it's socially closed and it is going to be difficult to make new friendships. I'm going to have to really make a big effort to achieve the experience I am craving. I'm trying hard to be optimistic and not frightened of going home. I need to remember all of the amazing things that makes me love my city so much and of all the new opportunities that are potentially waiting for me there if I try to find them.

The root of my sadness is having to leave the people I care about so much behind and utter fear at being back in a city that though I love, I know that I am going to find very overwhelming at first. I can't be sure if my additional sadness is at leaving Japan specifically, or leaving this life of living abroad. I will only know once I am not here anymore. Living here has been the most challenging thing I've done, but it has also been the biggest buzz ever. I've made memories here that I will value forever. I know I want to do something like this again, and soon.

It's my teaparty tonight and I want to have fun. I don't want to say goodbye, but I want my final night in Marugame to be a night of happiness, green tea cake, polaroid pictures, late night bicycle rides, and good times with the funny mix of people who have been a big part of my life this year.

It's hard to sum up a year in pictures - what a horrible task, but these are the ones that made me smile as soon as I flicked through the hundreds of pictures I have.

You have been a tough one, but you've been good to me, Japan.


Monday, 26 July 2010

Penultimate Party Weekend

This weekend, Vivian and I took a trip to our favourite places in Kansai, Osaka and Kyoto. It was the last trip we are going to take together (for a while at least...I'll be back to see you in Tokyo, Vivian.) so we were determined to make it a trip to remember. And we did. We really did....

We get embarrassed to arrive in the big cities in this bus. 'Sanuki Express' emblazoned across the front lets everybody know we are country folk leaving the rice fields for the weekend...

First stop - Osaka

My favourite Vivian and Isabel Osaka memories - J-boys, Osaka nightclubs, Aki and Bruce on the Dotombori, staying at the cutesy KOMO hostel, running away from a French man, bananas on escalators, day trip to Nara, trying on fluffy heels in the low budget shoe shop,encountering fellow Kagawa weekend trippers ('that's Kagawa'), Umeda station meltdowns, watching our friends jump into rubbish heaps fresh from the kitchens of McDonalds (urgh),waiting for return buses to Kagawa.

My final weekend in Osaka was our Osaka weekends always are.

We spent ages picking up clothes shaped treasures in Namba before meeting the Mikes...

(no, this one is better;)

We ate Mexican food and mango margueritas, and then there was dancing...

(I love this picture of Vivian!)

...and finally, some karaoke...

We arrived back at our hostel very early the next morning. The hostel was in a bad part of town and wasn't a very pleasant stay. It was also not very pleasant being woken up after two hours sleep and being told we had fifteen minutes to check out.
We wandered around Namba in a sleepy daze, attempted some more shopping (it was half hearted) before giving up and hopping on the train to...

My favourite Vivian and Isabel Kyoto memories: late night green tea frappucino and cake parties down by the river, walks through Ponto cho, befriending guest catchers, combini snacks at 3am, green tea everything, KitKat photoshoots, staying up all night, the lovely 'this is the button to increment and decrement the AC' owner of our hostel, meeting Mr. and Mrs. Pomme and eating cake at their lovely cafe.

We were so exhausted by the time we got to Kyoto. Late afternoon showers and cat naps at our lovely hostel felt like heaven after the dump we had stayed at the previous night. We even got room service from Mr. Increment Decrement :-)

Later that evening, we headed out for a beautiful meal in Gion, and took pictures in the most beautiful parts of the city.

It was the perfect weekend. I don't want this to end.