1 Year in Japan - Japanniversary

Today marks one year from my arrival in Japan. I came here with so many hopes and expectations for life and love, most of which I have reached, some fell away quite abruptly, and others I surpassed!

It started with the coming together of a great bunch of people who bonded closely over an action packed week of training, forging fast friendships that have helped us survive as Aliens in Japan!

Leaving Tokyo was almost as bad as leaving home, each second taking me deeper into the country side.

I'll never forget the first time I saw Kamisu... huge electricity pylons in 3's leading up to a vast steaming and smoking factory town... my heart broke, the sunny seaside town I had been promised was a lie....

And yet in that quiet town with its poker straight roads, neat rows of paddy fields, pachinko parlors and factories I found many fantastic things...

I met some of the most wonderful people. My students, teachers and locals... my fellow English teachers, united by the city's bleakness and by the often strange rules and decisions handed down from our office. Having such a nice group of friends really helped to make living in Kamisu a more pleasant experience for us all!

And of course, I also found what I was really looking for in Japan, Kendo.

The first company employee I met, Kumi-san, was a kendo player with a 7dan father, she took me to the local Budokan on my very first day and I went there that same night for keiko. From that day on I had something to love in Kamisu.

Onuki Sensei, Suzuki Sensei, Terashima Sensei and Oishi Sensei were the first to welcome me, followed by Akiyama Sensei and Numata Sensei. I dropped into my school gym after overhearing the sounds of kendo from the street and found Kanai Sensei, Ikeda Sensei and Matsuzawa Sensei, as well as Matsuzawa Shota.

Akiyama Sensei invited me to Karuno Ken Kai where I met my Japanese brother, Yutaka along with Daichi.

I was lucky too to meet Chris who helped me out in Jikishin-kan across the water in Omigawa. He and Kobayashi Sensei shared some wonderful Saturday morning keiko with me!

Practicing in Kamisu was a pleasure, I was always made feel welcome and everyone tried their best to help me improve for my Sandan and for the WKC.

There are more names and faces, that i wont mention here, more memories that I'll take with me on the next step of my adventure!

It was hard to leave. I felt like I'd started to make a home there. But I needed more than just kendo to keep me going. And Kamisu wasn't offering that.

I took the leap, asked for a transfer and got a new position in Tokyo.

Leaving my schools was extremely difficult. I held back the tears as best I could. But the fact is, I really enjoyed teaching there. I cried like a big girl when saying goodbye to all my students at one school, walking from te main entrance to the gates through a sea of smiles, laughs and kanchos., I hope "my" kids saw the tears as a sign of how much I loved them!

Before I knew it I was gone. I didn't get time to say goodbye to everyone, but that's ok. I know I'll go back there to visit and I can see them then!

And now here I am, 2am on the 28th of June 2012, in Meguro, Tokyo having just helped make history at the World Championships, sitting on the edge of my bed with my mind spinning

1 year gone, what's next? Another year teaching for sure, but after that I don't know... Tokyo is a new adventure, it's certainly been exciting so far and I want to enjoy all the weird and wonderful things it has to offer.

I don't think much has changed in me
over the last year, but maybe people back home would think otherwise?
One thing that has changed however is my desire to explore, I've seen the country side, I'll live in Tokyo and take photos at each end of Japan... I'm happy here, but, I now know there is more. And I want to see it all.

Happy anniversary Japan, let's have another awesome year!