I just got back from my two weeks trip to Japan. I told this story to many of you, but originally this trip was planned for March. My older son’s Japanese class was going to Japan as school trip, and I decided to tag along with my younger son to visit the family and friends.
But of course, 3.11 happened and the school trip was canceled, and I had to postpone my ticket to May.
The older son has school and I wasn’t 100% sure about bringing my younger son with me because of the numerous aftershocks and radiation concerns, so I ended up going alone.
My last trip was two years ago, but we went as a whole family so we did everything together, and more touristy stuff. (Such as visiting a Obama hot springs and took picture with President Obama cutout…LOL) This time, I was all by myself (First time ever to do it since I left Japan 13 years ago) with lots of time to spare. It was completely different experience.
First week, I went straight to my hometown, Sasebo, Nagasaki and stayed with my parents and brother.
My dad has pancreas cancer and had a surgery last summer. But the side effects from the anticancer drug was so bad, now he is not taking anything. He looked much smaller than last time I saw him. My brother and mom both told me that I should be prepared. I think this is very Japanese thing, but they didn’t tell me much about what’s happening with his health, so that I won’t worry. It’s really sad.
I spent a week doing nothing in particular. In the morning I worked (mainly for Social Media Camp that’s coming up very soon!), then I either go out for tea with my parents or went shopping, or just wander downtown for some “trip down memory lane”…
Few times I took a bus to downtown, which takes about 40 minutes. I hear the good old bus stop announcement with commercials and think about all the time I spent growing up in the small town -”Small town of 260 thousand people” – my ex used to laugh. A train station I used to hang out with my high school boyfriend, bus stop I used to use when I was pregnant with my first born (I learned to drive in Canada, so in Japan I used bus and train a lot), US navy base where I used to hang out with my American boyfriend, Mr. Donut(Think of it as Japanese Tim Hortons) I used to work, little apartment I used to live….ah memories. It made me feel all nostalgic.
All these memories flooded back to me, and I understood why some people don’t want to go back to their home town. Because some of the memories can be raw, and not all that positive. As the bus drove by my high school, I remembered the day my boyfriend broke up with me, which broke my heart (I was 17 then)…of course I’m over it now, but I still felt emotional just thinking about it.
Sasebo is filled with tacky ads and ugly old buildings, but at the same time it’s beautiful and full of memories.
I went out with friends only once during that week visit. I met up with my “Mama” -term used for female barkeep in Japanese snack bar- and my sidekick back then, Tomomi. We used to work in this small “snack bar” when I was 19. Both of them are now married with kids. It was a small reunion. We talked about all the things we did back in the day…like spontaneous beach trip at 5 am after we closed the bar…all good times. At one point I said, “Can you believe all these things happened over 15 years ago?!”
Mama said, “I know, but back then we had more interesting people and so many legends were made.” I agree.
After a week, I left home and headed to Tokyo to spend another week there. My mom drove me to the train station. As I said goodbye to my dad at home, a thought that this might be the last time to see him crossed my mind. I didn’t say anything about it, just told him to be well and that he needs to come to Canada. He said “When I get better.”
At the train station my mom did her usual speech how I have to take care of myself and that the health is the most important thing. I told her not to worry as I just had physical and my Dr. said I’m very healthy. She again told me my dad wasn’t taking any drug and they are not sure how long he has…
I managed not to cry in front of them. But after I got on the train, I couldn’t stop the tears.
(Continues to part 2)