The End of My Japanese Life

I’m writing this sitting in a hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam, after leaving Japan yesterday.

The last few months in Tokyo have been amazing. I feel so wowed that I had the chance to spend some time in such an incredible city, and I was so lucky to meet the wonderful people that I did.

My last night, a group of the wonderful people at the guesthouse took me to a restaurant in Shibuya called Lock Up, a themed restaurant with a mishmash of prison wardens, zombies, monsters and punk covers of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. The service was terrible and once an hour they turned all the lights out so we couldn’t see the strange, themed food we were eating, but we had so much fun, and it was a great last night with the people who were the heart of my Tokyo life.

My last morning I was, predictably, scrambling to finish my last minute packing. I had to finish cleaning my room, give away most of my possessions, go to the post office and get on a train by 11:38am. It was a little giri-giri, but being so stressed out stopped me from thinking about the reality of what was happening.


I said goodbye to a small group at the door, and couple of very lovely people walked me to the station and I said my last goodbyes. I slept most of the way to the airport, and went straight to check in when I arrived.

I was being very stoic and grown up about the whole process, and hadn’t cried at all, or even thought too much about what I was doing, and then I got to customs.

As I signed a form rescinding my Japanese residency, it suddenly hit me. That was it. The place I had called home for more than two years was no longer my home. Simple as signing my name and punching a hole in my identity card. There was a lump in my throat, and my eyes prickled.

“I’m sad,” I told the man at immigration as I handed him the form.

He looked at me for a second and smiled.

“Me too. Take care, okay?” He gave me back my identity card with its new hole in the middle. “Here’s a present.”

I walked in circles around the terminal  until it was time to go to the gate. I ate a last onigiri sitting in a corner, and wondered how long they would last if I bought heaps of them and stuffed them in my backpack.

And as the plane took off I closed my eyes and tried to think of the adventure ahead, rather than what I was leaving behind.

I love they way I live my life, but every new adventure brings a little bit of heartbreak. I leave pieces of my heart everywhere I go, and there’s a big piece in Japan.

I’ll be back one day, for sure, but right now I’m looking forward; through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and, most importantly, home to New Zealand.

And who knows what magic will come next in my incredible life.


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