We’ve both been commenting on how different our second year of living in Japan is versus the first. The whole ‘newness’ factor is gone, but so is the ‘stress and anxiety’ factor. We don’t feel like complete outsiders anymore. In one sense it has made it more enjoyable to live here, but at the same time it’s not quite as interesting. There is a sense of calm and familiarity about everything now; however, there is still a lot we don’t know or understand and I’m pretty sure no matter how long we stayed here, that wouldn’t change. I can only imagine how much richer and deeper our whole experience would be if we knew how to speak and read Japanese – as I feel we are just barely scratching the surface.
Despite that big gap, we do know enough Japanese to ‘get by’ and we are very comfortable using the subways and trains, going to the post office, booking hotels, shopping, and trying new restaurants. We know the city well enough, that it would be hard for us to get lost. All the clerks at our little local grocery store know us and we’ve even gotten ‘point cards’ at the places we shop the most.
We’ve been sort of limited on the things we could do recently, (given all the extra work Robert’s had to do with his new position at school and the fact we had to wait for our new passports), but that forced us to do a lot more exploring around our neighborhood. We’ve met some new people, and found some interesting shops, quaint little parks and pretty little beaches. And since eating out is one of our favorite things to do, this ‘down time’ has also allowed us to find a great Spanish restaurant, a fun yakatori restaurant, a yummy French restaurant, a Taiwanese restaurant, and a darn tasty Hawaiian restaurant. We are really excited we’ve finally commenced our culinary tour of Fukuoka and I’m sure this will continue for quite awhile. All in all, I think we both agree it now feels a lot more like home.