Friday, July 19, 2013

Discovering a corner of Japan 2

... continuation of the previous post

A long weekend

This was a 3-days weekend, because today, Monday, is the Marine Day. It's also my last week-end in Japan, because in a couple of days I'll go back to Europe. But let's begin from Saturday. I've spent the whole morning just for shopping. Usually girls love it, but not me. The only good thing was enjoying the air-conditioned mega stores, looking at Western prices for Western clothes. I found nothing of what I was looking for, but I managed to sort out something for my friends. I've tried to find also the catholic church I wanted to visit for the mass, but it was closed.

After 5 yrs from the Organ Summer Academy in Haarlem (the Netherlands), I met again two dear friends, obviously organists and obviously Japanese, in Tokyo on Sunday. Although they don't live in town, they came just to meet me! This is the sweetest present a friend can give. We visited the Jojijoj Temple, my first time in a buddhist temple. Oh well! The business behind the religion is the same in every confession, here as well as in a catholic sanctuary. We had lunch in a traditional Japanese restaurant. I was surprised to have to remove my shoes at the entrance, but then I've astonished my friends with my "ability" with the chopsticks. I'm learning. In the afternoon we had fun in the shopping center under the Skytree, tasting sweets and refreshing drinks and making my friend's baby smiling in front of the camera. We promised to meet each other again, in Europe or in Japan, possibly much before than in 5 yrs.

On Monday morning I bought the food for the last days, I've unsuccessfully looked for stamps for Europe, and I've reserved the bus to the airport. I would have been to see the ocean, but the weather forecast called rain and I was enough tired after two days of walking. Therefore, in the afternoon I had the last glimpse of Tokyo, thanks to the Italian physicist and his Japanese girlfriend. They have shown me the Imperial Palace and gardens and an important Shinto Temple. It was great! Far from the crowded shopping areas, in the peace of quiet little wood, where one can forget to be in maybe one of the most traffic congested cities in the world. Sayonara Tokyo, perhaps we'll meet again sooner than you can imagine! 

the last days in Japan
I must admit that Tuesday was quite boring, just work, except for the evening, when we went out for my farewell party. We were seven, from the boss to the post-doc, but I guess they asked a female post-doc to join us just to have another woman in the party, besides me, although she almost didn't say a word. I had been warned about this kind of party... In fact it has been very nice: eating good food, drinking beer and (finally) sake, talking about science, history, travels, etc. Nevertheless, the talking was a bit limited, because only the older members have spent some years abroad and speak fluent English. The sum of my and someone else's limitations produces no conversation, alcool doesn't help much, at least for them. At 9 p.m. I was already in the guest house.

Wednesday was a bit more adventurous, also because I'm always quite nervous when I have to leave. At lunch time, I've rented a bycicle at the guest house and had my first and last (for now) ride in Japan, driving on the left side. It wasn't just for fun. I looked for a post office to send some postcards. I don't want to get crazy at the last minute at the airport! In the afternoon I was almost ready for leaving, with samples for my colleagues in my backpack but a bit upset for not finding again one sample I was interested in. During a farewell tea, we ate rare and expensive cherries from the Prefecture of Tohoku, as last present for me. Finally the time to say goodbye to my kind hosts has arrived. I promised to visit again the NIPR and I wished to meet them again anyway at one of the next international conferences. Then I went to my room, to clean it and to try to organize my suitcase. My plan was to sleep at least 6-7 hours before beginning the longest day (traveling to west) of this trip, but I didn't succeed. I slept maybe 3 hrs.

The longest day. Waking up was not a problem... as I didn't sleep much. The reserved taxi was waiting for me and , oh! surprise! T.T. waved from her balcony, in front of the NIPR. She woke up at 5 just to be sure that everything was fine for me. So nice from her! The bus arrived on time and in 2hrs we were at the airport. Passports were checked 3-4 times, once also on the bus, but everything went smooth. The breakfast was a bit sad... with packed sweets and an American coffee not particularly strong. The airplane wasn't completely full, so I had more room in my row, but I got sick just at the beginning. of the flight*. Maybe the coffee, perhaps the lunch or the cold temperature in the airplane. Just the time to check my emails at Vienna Airport, in one hour I was peacefully sleeping on the last flight of the day. A taxi brought me quickly to my place, while a warm sun still shined over Brussels. Goodnight!

* From this moment until landing in Brussels, suddenly I began crying and couldn't stop. Like the last Sunday in Vienna, when I've been for the last time in "my" church and then I crossed the AKH Campus, still covered by the snow. Exactly in that moment I realized that the happy and equilibrated life I had there was at the end. During the flight I didn't cry because I was sick (common thing and also quite short), but because everything on that airplane (Austrian) reminded me my time in Vienna. I expected, somehow, this reaction when I chose the flight but I didn't imagine it so strong! Also writing these lines I cried again. This morning is going much better. There was something unsolved, not accepted, about my new life. The person I was in Vienna doesn't exist anymore, I'm back to the odious single lady I was in Padua before emigrating. I hate the place where I live, although I love my new job and I try every day to make me enjoy Brussels. Back from Japan, I should summarize my impressions on that country, not regretting my (forced) choices. But it's time to move on, saying definitively farewell to Vienna and trying to be happy also here. Even if this would be the only good thing I learned from my Japanese trip, it is a great achievement!

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