Well, I’ve made the hop from the U.S. over to Japan, a journey of about 24 hours from door to door. As usual, being back “home” is always a bit of a shock as my brain slowly switches modes. As the plane prepared to land, I was struck by the deep greens of Japan as seen from the air, which looked so lush after several months spent among the dry sandy colors of Southern California. I wolfed down an onigiri while that weird hot dog statue in Narita Airport watched me, and I contemplated the ordered, proper world I’d returned to. Other aspects of the country that stood out to me included the local obsession with having bus schedules in military time, the ubiquity of pachinko parlors as I rode the bus home, and the cleanliness of the country’s freeways — I mean it, you could literally eat off of them.
Since I’d been in the U.S. for so long, my brain now has to get used to speaking Japanese all the time again. Just as it once took me a full minute to recall the word “irreplaceable” after speaking only simple English to ESL students for a few years, I now have to loosen the synaptic pathways in my brain that stored the Japanese language. This morning I was brushing my teeth, and I oddly tried to recall the Japanese word for the fluoride in my toothpaste. For some reason my brain wasn’t cooperating, instead substituting kasshi and sesshi, what Centigrade and Fahrenheit are called in Japanese. Then something clicked and I had the word: fusso. Hopefully I’ll be back in full Japanese mode soon.
And now I get to fight off my jet lag…
Nothing says “welcome to Japan” like the Narita Hot Dog.`