It’s been more than luck that my travels have allowed me to call several places home.
Of course, with twinions and a surfer dude husband, home right now is here – beautiful, sunny (although not this week) suburbia Sydney.
Some of you may know, one place very dear to my heart is Japan. It’s a country that I just kinda fell into a situation with.
Struggling to figure out what I wanted to study in uni, my ultimate decision to study Japanese was like throwing spaghetti on a wall.
“Let’s see if this sticks. If it doesn’t, meh”
And like a stubborn spaghetti stain, my love for the land that invented the genius karaoke machine, never dissipated. (Nor has my penchant for the karaoke mic).
A scholarship studying in Kyoto (think Memoirs of a Geisha but with real Japanese people) led to teaching English in a rural town buried in snow 6 months of the year. Eventually I landed in turbo charged Tokyo.
Ah, Tokyo…Have you seen “Lost in Translation”? It’s every bit that movie. Except for the weird whisperings between Bill Murray and ScarJo at the end.
Learning Japanese is a bit like learning Mathematical equations. There is a set phrase for just about every occasion.
Before eating a meal equals the phrase “Itadakimasu” (Literal translation, “ I humbly accept this food”).
At uni, we would make up our own English idioms to try and remember our Japanese phrases. Itadakimasu turned into “I’ll eat a duck if I must”
Dou Itashimashite meaning “Your welcome”, transformed to “Don’t touch my moustache”
The Japanese for “Excuse me” or “Pardon me” is “Shitsurei shimasu”.
No doubt you can guess its derogatory version.
I have two favourite phrases.
When you come home – whether from school, or work or wherever you’ve been away for ever how long – the first thing you say when you walk through the door is, “Tadaima”
Whoever is home, greets you back with “O-kaerinasai” (Welcome home).
When our lecturer first taught it to us I thought just a tad OTT. Who cares when you get home? I just want to dump my stuff, get into my pyjamas and actually not talk to anyone while I sit in front of the TV and veg out.
Having spent almost a decade in Japan and meeting some of the most big-hearted, generous people I will ever be blessed to know and call life long friends, those two phrases taught me well.
The last time I visited my little snow town was almost 7 years ago. I took Surfer boyfriend there for a holiday. Having travelled a few hours on the bullet train from Tokyo, we arrived late in the evening, looking disheveled.
But the moment I walked through my host mum’s front door, there she was wearing her familiar, warm smile.
Immediately enveloped by the comfort of arriving “home” out of habit I said, “Tadaima”
Japanese people don’t really hug. Doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you last saw them. If they do, it’s that awkward scarecrow stance. But not my host mum. Hers are squishy, jiggle you around a bit bear hugs.
We’re off to visit Japan in December. The twinions will go nuts over the trains in Tokyo station. They will be in bullet train heaven.
I’m hoping to teach them how to snow board on the very same bunny slopes I started on.
Most of all, I just can’t wait to go back to my other home.
Do you have more than one place you call home? Have you seen “Lost in Translation”? What did Bill whisper to ScarJo?
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