Though I still have two essays to write and submit before I’m technically finished with my work for the year, with my last Japanese finals behind me as of Tuesday, I devoted the majority of my last week in Japan to spending time with as many of the people who have made the past ten months so meaningful for me as possible.
Last Friday, some of the friends who I met on the Iwate volunteer trip from Tokyo came to Nagoya to visit to celebrate Rina’s birthday and my departure. One of my friend’s parents kindly hosted us in their lovely home for a maki–zushi-making party, which included viewing gorgeous photos of her recent wedding in Hawaii, lighting small fireworks in their garden, and loads of fun conversation and incredible food.
Monday I met up with one of the first friends whom I made after arriving in Nagoya, Shion, who works at Hostel Ann, where I stayed during my first ten days in Nagoya. After dinner we were planning to attend a Japanese comedy performance, but it turned out to be so popular that, despite being more than thirty minutes early, we couldn’t get seats. Instead, we ended up at her favorite bar, a tiny place nearby. It ended up being the perfect quaint place to catch up and make some new friends. Shion is really interested in Native American history and culture. I sincerely hope that someday she’ll be able to make it to America and we will be able to meet up again.
Tuesday night I went with friends from Thailand, Brazil, China, and the U.S. to an unbelievably delicious Thai restaurant. Diego and Jia two of the earliest friends I made after beginning studies at Nagoya University, and they were a huge part of the reason that I was able to survive the intensity of Japanese classes during my first semester. Thailand and Brazil are now at the very top of the list of countries that I deeply hope to be able to visit someday.
To celebrate my last night in Japan (for now), Hiraku and I went to the batting cages and then to a kaiten-zushi (rotater belt) restaurant for a huge dinner, and afterwards we walked the hour and a half back to our dorm through the streets of Nagoya; night is more or less the only time it’s cool enough to bear walking around outside in Nagoya lately. After taking a short break on the huge lawn in front of the auditorium on campus, we went to a fancy “French” restaurant that I had noticed during my most recent nighttime jog, where we had delicious crepes and cider for dessert. Afterwards we watched the first Harry Potter movie (which Hiraku had never seen) in Japanese, and I finished packing up my things.
As difficult as it is to say goodbye to all of the people whom I’ve come to cherish in Japan, knowing that my family and friends in the U.S. are only 22 hours of travel and one ocean away make the goodbyes bearable. Moreover, I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to move soon to a new place once again and begin graduate studies at Purdue University, and I can’t wait to make the most of the few days that I have at home in the meantime.