Back in Japan: I Miss Nishinomiya

The sunlight had streamed through the blinders and woke me up at 7am this morning. I touched down at 3:20pm yesterday but it was almost 7pm before I could get settled into my dorm room. I’m back living where it all began, really, in that same dorm where I first started my journey in Japan in over three years ago.

My room for the next few months

My room for the next few months

I’m on the third floor again, just like before, but it’s a different room and already I miss my apartment in Nishinomiya. Its location, the amenities, how I don’t have to deal with people…(“Don’t be antisocial the entire time lah!” chided Sherilyn) and also because it feels like I am starting anew all over again – I don’t have a pillow or blanket, no utensils…I have to start from zero.

The 100yen store I loved to frequent nearby is gone. The nearest one is now two train stations away. There is no wholesale supermarket nearby – everything is so much more expensive now. Back when pasta used to be 90yen for 500g and I could just grab two and not think about it, it’s now 250yen. Gone are the 20yen udon packs and 30yen tofu.

No more 15 minute train rides into Kobe or Osaka, now it will take at least 35 minutes. No more late night conbini runs to the LAWSON a minute away, now it’s a 10 minute walk. No more late night cooking and meals because the shared kitchen is closed at 10:45pm (I find this ridiculous btw, it wasn’t so strict when I first lived here).

But you know, I shouldn’t complain. I’m back in Japan and that’s all that matters right? “You’re so lucky to be studying in Japan!” “I wish I could be there!” and it’s probably only for 3 months or so till the end of the semester.

I guess it’s not that I’m ungrateful but that you inevitably start comparing. When I first lived in Takarazuka I loved every minute of it. It’s quiet – so much quieter than Nishinomiya – and I liked that. I took a walk to the river side and along the famous Hana no Michi in spring and sat down, eating donuts and marveling at life. It felt like nothing could be better.

Some days I sit around and don’t want to leave my room. When did I stop enjoying? When did I stop taking pictures because everything became “normal”? Then I hypocritically complain about how boring life is – of course it’s boring when you stare at four walls all day.

Welcome back to Japan (taken at Nishinomiya Kitaguchi Station)

Welcome back to Japan (taken at Nishinomiya Kitaguchi Station)

The purple sky greeted me as I lugged my bags over to the train station. I didn’t need to have to take the train after getting off the airport bus, and I complained about it while fumbling to get my things together through the gates and down onto the platform.

Ugh, I have to take the train for 20 minutes. I thought, and then later, when I got to my room, ugh again, as I looked at the worn signs of age on the carpet. My apartment was so much nicer and I didn’t care that it was smaller and more expensive. I missed it. I missed my rice cooker, hair dryer, kettle, pots and pans, blanket…everything I used to own that I gave all away.

But I guess this new start is good. It’s time for me to rediscover Japan anew, strangely enough, in what is probably my last semester here as a student. It feels like I said goodbye and now I have to say hello again.

“You’re back in Japan so fast? I thought you were planning on staying in Singapore longer?”

You know, plans change. It’s weird having to explain myself constantly. Why I’m back, why I say Goodbye back then.

Now I have to say Hello.

Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu, Japan. I’m back.

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