Watching the golden sunset from the airport window provided an appropriate good-bye to my 10-day Japanese adventure. The setting sun cast a golden glow over Ise Bay and sparkled on the wings of the jet sitting at the gate. The airport was relatively quiet with only a few passengers gathering to board. Soon my plane would leave Nagoya, Japan, the last stop on this trip of a lifetime.
Staring out the window, I mused over the events of the past week, noting I was ironically watching a setting sun in the Land of the Rising Sun. My trip was coming to a close, and within the next hour I would be in the dark sky watching the lights of the city below grow ever smaller as the jet ascended and flew farther away, entrusting my experience in Japan to digital photos, memory and a hand-scratched diary.
Over those ten short days, I stayed in a real Japanese home with a real Japanese family. I shopped in the grocery store, went to a Japanese mall, ate at Japanese restaurants, went on a Japanese picnic, ate home-cooked food, ate home-raw food, tried lots of new foods, used chopsticks and ate at a sushi bar. I rode in a Japanese car (didn’t drive!). I walked on tatami flooring (take off your shoes!), shopped at a Japanese Yen store (the U.S. equivalent of a dollar store) and bought a green-frosted (green tea flavored) donut at a Japanese donut shop.
I rolled through numerous cities via train, embarking on foot tours in Kyoto, Omi-Hachiman, Nara, Uji, Hikone, Nagahama and Tokyo. I visited numerous Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. I rode a Shinkansen bullet train. I even almost got to ride a boat over Lake Ashi (see blog post “Elusive Mount Fuji”), but the trip was canceled due to inclement weather; oh, well. I rode on a Japanese tour bus as well as a city bus. I experienced the crowds in the Tokyo train station at rush hour, stayed in a Japanese hotel room and bought coffee at a Japanese Starbucks.
In short, I experienced a five-star quality trip abroad experience. Needless to say, lots of thoughts ran through my head watching the sun set on Ise Bay, watching the sun set on my Japanese vacation. It was time to say good-bye; time to say “sayonara”.
Finally, the airline attendant announced the boarding of the flight. I rolled my neatly packed carry-on complete with what I brought over plus lots of small souvenirs to bring back. The suitcase goes overhead, the shoulder bag at my feet. The jet took off, and I watched out the window until the lights of the city below grew ever smaller as the jet ascended and flew farther away, entrusting my experience in Japan to digital photos, memory and a hand-scratched diary. The city lights gradually disappeared, and the ground was no longer visible. The sky became pitch black. With no more glimpses left, I laid back, closed my eyes and silently said to the land with the setting sun, “Sayonara, Japan. And thank you.” さようなら