Two Extremes

At the best of times, living abroad feels like being a small child again. I notice small details, I live much more from moment to moment and focus on tiny thrilling satisfactions (I recognize that kanji!) and I am full of questions (what is that? why is it doing that? why is everyone walking in that direction, should I do that too? Is this chocolate or bean paste?) Sometimes, the small moments of satisfaction are given over to a larger sense of wonder and peace, that the world is so unbelievably vast and that I get to have a small place in it. Over and over I am amazed by the general kindness of people.

At the worst times, living abroad feels like being on a bad drug trip in public that won’t end (what is this? why is this little kid grabbing me? OK we’re running now- WHY IS THAT CHILD TAKING OFF HER CLOTHES okay no one else is reacting I won’t react should I react?)

Main difference between Japanese toilet and American bathroom etiquette In Japan, you do not take your pants off to use the toilet

Today, a group of girls knocked on the outside door of the teacher’s room and asked for “Engu-Sensei”. I changed into outdoor shoes and followed them outside. I got to run around, learn some Japanese children’s games (most involving being chased) show them yoga movements, and teach them a clapping game that I myself learned in college from a Korean exchange student. Overall, just remembering the joys of being 9 years old and running barefoot on grass, doing cartwheels and handstands on a sunny day.

I realized in the middle of writing this that tomorrow marks two months since coming to Japan.


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