Got more sad news from Sarah. As her parents will be in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives, she will not be returning to live in Japan.
In April her parents were victims in a really bad car accident. She had just returned from a trip to visit them in March before starting the new highly paid job I had set up for her (the new school year starts in April in Japan).
Sarah says she will continue paying rent until I find someone nice to move in. She is organizing with an international moving company to pick up and ship all her belongings to her.
She asked me to post this for the next person to live in her home:
I'm missing Japan in a fierce way right now. Having been back in the States for three months now, I've thought quite a bit about what I really miss about life in Nishi-Akashi.
These aren't in any particular order:
* Feeling like I was completely safe walking home in the dark at 1:30am.
* Hanging my clothes outside to dry without the neighbors or landlord complaining. And the smell of sun-dried clothes.
* The attentiveness to the seasons - We have four seasons here, but being in Japan made me appreciate them more.
* My organic vegetable garden and all the fresh herbs and veggies not available in the supermarkets I was growing.
* Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) picnics at Akashi castle
* Summer fireworks festivals (different from the 4th of July).
* Warm summers - The humidity usually didn't bother me.
* Great snow and excellent ski-resorts which are inexpensive and have hot-spring spas, only a few hours away by bus
* The transportation system-You can get practically anywhere without having to rely on an automobile.
- Going to the seaside after work? No worries as only 5 minutes walk from nearby station to pleasant beach with great view of the Akashi bridge (the bridge has the longest central span of any suspension bridge in the world).
- Going out with some friends in the city? No worries as the trains from Sannomiya leave until 1am (or 12:30am from Osaka).
- I absolutely hate staying in hotels but with the Shinkansen train station only 10 mins walk, I took a full day trip nearly every Saturday. Day trips to places like Kyushu in the west and Tokyo in the east. Even took a day trip to climb Mt Fuji.
* The antique market in Sumadera temple on the first Sunday of every month.
* All the varied restaurants in walking distance of home
- Okonomiyaki at the little family-owned place I'd always get it from. Best I've ever had in Japan.
- Bowl of steaming hot noodles delivered to my home when I was too tired to go out (just left the bowl outside my door and they picked it up later that night)
- Green's K all-you-can-eat lunch or dinner for only 770yen (sushi, tempura, curry, yakisoba, stew, salads, etc, and for dessert make your own crepes at your table with ice cream, fruit and other fillings)
* Consistently quality service - In the States, you gotta pay out the nose to be treated OK. In Japan, you pay a bit more for everything, but always get decent, polite service without having to worry about tipping.
In Akashi, the shopkeepers were always slipping free extras into my bag when they realized I was a regular customer.
* seeing people generally work very hard and take pride in what they are doing, even if it means sweeping floors or cleaning up the street in front of their home.
But what I miss the most is my peaceful home in Nishi-Akashi.
Both my parents worked long hours and as an only child I grew up loving the quiet of being home alone. When I first moved to Japan I lived in the apartment provided by the company. I hated students and other teachers constantly dropping by. Japanese people in the cities always entertain at restaurants and rarely visit friends' homes, but as I was a gaijin they thought it was OK. When I moved to Nishi-Akashi I kept my address secret, even from my Japanese boyfriend (which was good as after I broke up with him, he became a stalker at my workplace for a few weeks). Now I'm back in the States I have to put up with my parents' neighbors stopping in to see how I'm doing at all hours and then oversharing their lives. In Japan I loved hanging out with my many friends, and that my environment was constantly challenging me, but it was heaven to come home alone at the end of the day to my oasis in Nishi-Akashi.