Missing Japan…

I just spent ten days back home in England, and the timing was just right to get me thinking about the things I will and won’t miss about Japan when I leave (which is in a little over 100 days, by the way…).

So, here’s a short summary of my musings so far:

Things I’ll Miss

  • The way everyone is just SO polite in shops. The way people say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when you buy something, and the way they bow at you like you’re special even though you only spent about a fiver. This, of course, doesn’t happen in England. You’d be lucky to get a ‘thank you’ in most places.
  • Rice balls. I mean, I love sandwiches, but rice balls rule! I especially like the triangle-shaped tuna ones. When I first ate one I had no idea how to unwrap it, despite the easy instructions on the package. Now I feel like they’re the easiest, most convenient food in Japan.
  • Japanese. As soon as I got to Helsinki on my return trip I started hearing a bit of Japanese, and I realised how much I like to hear it. Understanding a little makes me feel like I’m a part of some secret club or something.
  • The way people try so hard not to bump into you on the street, and they sort of hold their hand up to say excuse me. Hell, I even do this now – not that anyone noticed in Covent Garden…
  • Temples and shrines – there’s nothing like them in the UK.
  • Festivals (although I want to make a concerted effort to attend more festivals in other countries).
  • “Itadakimasu”. I have no words in English to say before I eat something. I find “itadakimasu” particularly useful when someone has given me something to eat, as it seems to say “thank you”, too.
  • My Xperia cell phone. Over Christmas I was stuck in the UK with my very old Nokia handset, which could barely text and got really confused when I tried to access Facebook. As soon as I get a job, I’ll be getting an Xperia again! (Or maybe an iPhone…)

Things I Won’t Miss

  • Not being able to find a decent veggie meal. I was so happy to open menu upon menu in England and be reunited with those little ‘v’ signs.
  • Getting so confused so easily just because I can’t read something or catch a word.
  • Kanji (well, maybe I’ll miss them a little bit…) 😉
  • Teeny tiny clothes and shoes that don’t fit me – in every store!! >_<
  • Being sick and not being able to buy medicine easily because I can’t understand the packaging.
  • The Japanese work ethic. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for hard work and I don’t mind a bit of overtime. But Japan is mainly a country of work-a-holics, and that can’t be healthy.
  • Natto. It just creeps in everywhere, and now even the word makes me feel sick.
  • Cockroaches. Need I say more? >_<

So that’s just a few things off the top of my head right now. I will certainly miss Japan a lot when I go back to England, but of course it will be much easier to live in an English-speaking country. One of the reasons I came to Japan was to learn and challenge myself, and I always promised myself that when that challenge stopped being fun and became hard work I would recognise it as time to go home.

I hope nothing I say here puts anyone off coming to Japan to live or even just to visit. It’s an amazing country and I will certainly be back, even if it’s just for a holiday! I hope that the ideas I have shared on my blog so far will help to encourage others who might be thinking of visiting Japan. If you’re reading this and want to ask any questions about living in Japan or visiting, please feel free to leave a comment and I promise to get back to you.

Finally, I think January might be a bit of a quiet month for Haikugirl, but don’t worry… I’m still here! I have a few adventures lined up, and I never know when some exciting opportunity will present itself to me. So please continue to “watch this space”! (And don’t forget to “like” me on Facebook and “follow” me on Twitter!) 😀

今年もよろしくおねがいします! (*^^)v

7 thoughts on “Missing Japan…

  1. I’m moving from the UK to Japan (permanently I hope) in March…this article actually encouraged me more as some of the positives are things I experienced when on holiday last year and a few of the negatives (like vegan food and girly clothes) don’t apply to me.

    I’m interested to see what the work ethic is like in the school I will work at but as it is a whole new career for me, I’m really excited and happy to put all my effort into it.

    Cheers for all these posts….it’s been really interesting and useful for me to read 🙂


    • Hi Sat
      I’m so glad to hear that I could encourage you and not put you off. I would like to encourage everyone to try Japan! Good luck with your move and with your job. I hope you love it as much as you’re hoping you will.
      Thanks for reading!
      Ali 🙂


    • Aw, Judith, thanks for your kind words. Don’t worry – although I will be moving to England in April, I hope to be able to continue sharing stories about Japanese stuff in England, and I also hope to visit Japan again many times! So please keep reading! 😉


  2. I have to ask what you think was the most important preparation before moving to Japan. Obviously, one would want a job lined up unless independently wealthy, but what did you do that most helped you? Or, what would you do differently to prepare for the move? I’ve really enjoyed following your blog, by the way! Best wishes for your impending move.


    • Hi Darla
      Thanks for stopping by. Yes, having a job lined up is vital of course. Other than that, I would say that having even the most basic understanding of simple Japanese phrases before coming to Japan would be the most useful thing you could do. On my first visit to Japan I couldn’t speak or read a word. By the time I moved here I had taken more than a year of classes. I couldn’t really speak and I couldn’t read much hiragana even (let alone kanji!), but it still helped me so much. I have seen other people come here with absolutely no Japanese and they really struggle.
      Thanks for reading, and please keep reading!
      Ali 🙂


  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Missing Japan… « Haikugirl’s Japan -- Topsy.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s