December 29, 2016
We left Japan on December 29. I am at a loss of words to describe how sad I feel. These past 124 weeks have been the best weeks ever!
We have been up to quite a lot of travelling and exploring over the past weeks followed by a long string of Sayonara parties. Lilo started with a Karaoke afternoon with her friends. The week after the boys had invited their friends from both schools for a final round of playtime. In the evening we had our adult Sayonara party without children – the great one without any pictures!
The last weeks felt like a never ending reunion with friends over and over in order to say good-bye again and again. We hope it’s going to be a “see-you-soon” with most of our friends as I plan to return to Tokyo for work and we will keep on promoting Nuremberg as a travel destination!
Now it is up to us to move from the last Thanksgiving in Tokyo with Ditte and Jesper to the first Thanksgiving in Nuremberg or Copenhagen with them. Or to turn a Kyoto day trip with my friend Sarah into a hiking day in Franconian Switzerland one day soon. We will find a new piano teacher and organise a concert for all of her or his pupils at our house, hoping to recreate some of the warmth, the laughter and international exchange we enjoyed so much at Susan’s and Hwan’s house. We are already looking forward to finally seeing Tybee island and to spend some quality time with all the Sheltons. And we are also looking forward to having lots of our friends and our children’s friends coming to see us in Nuremberg.
But despite the sadness about leaving Japan, there is so much joy about being back in Europe! Because we are close to our families and friends again. We can look forward to so many reunions! We will move from Sayonara party mood to reunion party mood! We already checked out the ICE connections and the Nuremberg airport flight plan. It all looks very promising. And we already have a car! Now the planning will start! We have already been to Mainz for New Years Eve, Ingolstadt will follow next weekend. Hamburg, Brussels, Würzburg, Munich, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Bonn, Stuttgart, Basel – get ready, we are on our way!
I will certainly miss my work with Canning and my network at FEW. Today I requested my tax number with the local tax authorities to set up my business in Germany. Next step is to create my professional network in Nuremberg / Germany. I will keep you posted!
The last days in Japan were actually quite stressful as we managed to be in Hokkaido when they had the heaviest snow in 50 years! We could not return to Tokyo as planned on Thursday early afternoon. We finally managed to get on a plane on Saturday evening. Travelling with a low cost carrier with an exclusively Japanese speaking staff might be cheap, but in case of trouble you are completely lost. At least we did not have to spend the nights at the airport like some other 6,000 people who got stuck as well.
Apart from the struggle to get back home, Hokkaido was wonderful. We stayed at the best hotel we ever had in Japan. Spacious Canadian blog houses with a restaurant in the centre of the premises. To our surprise we were picked up from the bus stop by Gudrun and Jürgen a German-Austrian couple who manages the hotel. With Gudrun being from Würzburg, the children heard the Franconian dialect for the first time. “Why does she talk in this funny way?”, was one of the first questions. They better get used to it!
The perfect powder snow certainly came after we left, but the slopes were in great condition and skiing was really fun. We had two days without the children as they attended ski school and spent the last day all together. By now, I have to speed up if I am in the lead as the kids will easily pass me. Especially Leonard is completely reckless going downhill and he hardly ever falls. It will become more and more challenging to go skiing with them in the future.
When we returned home, the packing of the house had already started without us. We arrived right in time for Christmas eve and on Christmas day we just had time to unpack the presents. Breakfast took place while the movers were taking down the pictures from the walls around us. Quite a surreal experience! We moved to the ANA intercontinental in Roppongi in the afternoon and enjoyed the last days in Tokyo with gorgeous breakfasts in a familiar neighbourhood close to our friends. And we had more sayonara parties……
This is the final blog post from Tokyo. Thank you all for following our adventures over the past two years. Returning to Germany after almost 11 years means that we are currently experiencing the reverse culture shock. But the German TV makes you feel at home right away as nothing has changed. They are still showing “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” – the German version of “American Idol”.
Some fun facts about Germany:
People are allowed to smoke everywhere – and they do. Streets are paved with cigarette butts.
If you go shopping, you need to bring your own bag. Even to places like H&M. A good initiative to reduce plastic waste, we just need a little adjustment coming from Japan.
Fruit and vegetables are really cheap.
People talk to each other. Strangers talk to you in restaurants, bars, cafés, shops and on the street. Even children talk to adults they do not know. People look you in the eye when they are walking past you in the streets.
Dust bins are everywhere in the streets, still waste is everywhere, too. Tokyo has no bins, but also no waste in the streets. How come?
It’s really hard to find something to drink when walking in the city. Almost no supermarkets, no “Kiosk”, no VENDING MACHINES! I really do miss them.
I am not sure it is a good thing to understand everything that is being said around you.