Well, today was the big day! And I’m pleased to report that I slept wonderfully. Probably due to the fact that I stayed up late enough that when I closed my eyes I fell straight to sleep, rather than lying awake worrying. So when I got out of bed, I had a pleasant last shower in Japan, followed by my last breakfast. Yatchan cooked me up some sausages, toasted me a bagel, and gave me a mikkan. After I finished my scrumptious breakfast, I finished my packing completely. I had to leave my Mount Fuji behind though, I just could not make him fit into my suitcase. But Ayana and Atsushi were very pleased that I gave it to them. Especially Atsushi! He carried it around with him, played with it alongside his toy cars, and we listed various other uses for it. A chair, pillow, teddy bear, statue, display stand, and according to a laughing Ats, a bathtub. This was said as we balanced atop it on his stomach, waving his arms and legs as if he was swimming. I’m glad that he likes it so much, and as Catherine told me, “No one has been able to take Mount Fuji across the ocean yet”.
I spent most of the morning hanging out with Yatchan and the kids (Catherine was already teaching a class at Kompao), and wandering the house aimlessly. I didn’t know what to do! I felt like there wasn’t enough time to start anything, like do parkour but I didn’t want to just lay in my room on my iPad. Pre-travel jitters were part of it. So as I said, I hung out with Yatchan and the kids a bit, and Skyped my family on last time. It’s a good thing I did, because dad informed me that my flight had been delayed a little bit (although not nearly as much as last time, which had been some five hours!), and encouraged me to keep checking the flight status. Someone that hadn’t even crossed my mind. In the end it was delayed about an hour and a half. Which is not too too bad, but was enough to make Catherine and I change our travel plans (on getting to the airport) a little bit. I had told Yatchan about the delay right after I found out, so he was able to check train schedules and sort of organize a plan for Catherine and I.
Around noon everyone in the house got into the car and went to pick up Cat. She was teaching Shigedi and Yasuhiro, so of course I came to say goodbye to them. I was able to chat with them a bit (in Japanese and English), and say thank you for the great time I had with them, and goodbye. They returned the sentiment, and handed me an envelope. It was a bit of a sad goodbye for me, but I’m glad I was able to say it. I had a blast with them.
When we got home we had a fairly simple lunch. Yat made me noodles with egg and spices. I gobbled it right up, I was starving! After I finished eating I went upstairs to my room and opened the envelope. Inside was a very nice note (written in English!) from Shigedi and Yasuhiro, and 3 000 yen. The note explained that it was for my house. When I showed it to Cat, she said that it was otoshidama. Otoshidama is a special, traditional, monetary gift given around New Years to your children. This of course made it all the more special.
When it was time, Yatchan and the kids drove Catherine and I to the train station. I hugged Yat, Ayana, and Atsushi, and said a huge thank you and goodbye. I’ll sure miss them all. But I didn’t have much time to reflect on that at the moment, Catherine and I had to (literally) run to catch our train. I had my enormous blue pack, and Catherine was wearing my overstuffed backpack. She also insisted on taking my second suitcase. As we ran through the station it felt like I was in some sort of military training! But it was worth it, we made our train, and a young man even gave up he seat so Catherine could sit down. He must’ve noticed my Canmore sweater, and our obvious whiteness, because he started talking to Catherine. In English. I believe his first question was “Are you an English teacher?”. Then he asked if we were from Canada, and the two had a good conversation. The boy (we found out he’s actually the same age as me) tried his best in English, but there was a fair bit of Japanese too. I could understand almost all of it. Among other things, he also said that he wanted to go to Canada, and cross country ski. He was extremely nice, and polite. Catherine and I both thought he was older than he actually was, since it’s fairly unusual for young teens to put themselves out like that. Even after he got out, the two hour trip to the airport was very pleasant.
Shortly after we arrived at the airport I saw a nice-looking English young man (probably mid twenties). He and I met eyes, and smiled and nodded. It was sort of awesome. Of course we couldn’t stay and chat, because Catherine and I were headed in. We got rid of my luggage as quickly as we could, and checked me in. There was a bit of confusion regarding batteries in my bags, but everything sorted itself out. And despite my worries, my bags were underweight. Although only by a couple kilograms, and the weight limit was 25! Once all that was dealt with, Catherine and I used the bathroom, checked out a couple shops, and eventually made our way to subway for a bite to eat. We both tried these cute sausages that were in flatbread with a delicious sauce. I also had a melon soda float. The women working there were Japanese, but bilingual enough to serve English speaking costumers just fine. We knew that since there was an older English man in front of us in line, but when it came to our turn, Catherine ordered in Japanese. We could both tell that it made them happy to see an English person speaking their language. And Catherine and I were happy to make see them happy, and because the food was scrum-diddly-umptious.
Not long after that, Catherine and I parted ways. It was in almost exactly the same spot that Yatchan and I had said farewell two years ago. I gave Catherine a big hug, and said dōmo arigatō gozaimashta (どうもありがとうございました, thank you so much!) with a formal bow. I had an incredible experience thanks to her and her generosity. I’m so happy. After we said goodbye, a Japanese employee took me down an escalator. I waved to Catherine until she was out of sight, and I remember doing the same to Yatchan two years ago. The employee and I went through security etc. Once he realized I spoke Japanese, he spoke hardly any English, and I understood just fine! We had a while to wait, but then I said arigatō gozaimashta to him, and got aboard the plane.
To Be Continued……