For my last day in Japan I wanted to go down to the beach and watch the sunrise over the pacific for the last time. But at some time in the night, I awoke and heard rain. The storm system that had been coming may have been pushing in earlier than I expected. I opted to stay in and watch the sunrise from the window in my room under the warmth of my covers. Through the flat clouds on the horizon and the plump rainclouds drifting in the wind; there was enough room to see the sun break through. As it rose, it sent an explosion of sunlight streaming across the countryside temporarily, before being covered by the next layer of clouds.
I spent the morning packing my things, writing (trying to catch up on the blog), and looking at photos while I sipped my coffee. On my trip I had met so many new friends. So many random people that were able to provide me help if I was lost, or trying to get to the next station. Friends of friends giving me rides and showing me places to go. I can only be thankful to my Japanese teachers back in high school that gave me the foundation for learning this language; and the 3 months of studying countless hours preparing for this trip. I came here on a mission to use this language and engage with the people around me. Because of my ability to speak a little of the language, the people I met were more willing to continue to have dialogue with me; whether it be in Japanese or English. I know my experience in Japan would have been totally different if I didn’t speak or use the language.
Here is the part where I have to thank as many people as I can remember meeting for helping me make my trip so fun and awesome. Jan and her family for showing me Nagasaki and much of its history. The people in the restaurant in Fukuoka for trying their best to make something vegetarian for me to eat. All of the train conductors and engineers that helped me get to the places I needed to go. Masa San and his family at Pumping Surf for such great accommodations, hospitality and sharing local surf knowledge. My new Friend Karibu fo such great times hanging out, surfing together, doing language exchange, and the many rides around Miyazaki. I would not have had such a fun trip without meeting you, I hope we stay in contact and you can come to California. Tatsu San at beach Backpackers on Amami for being such a great host and providing local knowledge, inviting me to hang out in Naze, surfing together, and having a cool space for travelers all over the world to experience Amami. All the people I met at Beach Backpackers for good times hanging out and good conversations (Tatsu, Shinpei, Mami, Kenji, and the others who I forgot the names of). The owners of 5 Seeds and all the people I met there, for such great fun at their grand opening and for finally opening up a place in Japan with vegan options (Oishi)! Konosuke and his family for their warm hospitality, letting me borrow a board, inviting me to dinner, giving me an island tour, providing other rides for me around the island and introducing me to the locals (you are awesome Ko)! All the guys out in the water on Amami for sharing waves. All of the SGI members I met at the Great Hall for Kosen-rufu for working hard to create a more peaceful society. Yoko from SGI London for a great conversation and practicing my Japanese at the orientation. Mike from SGI Los Angeles for a great time hanging out all day sharing stories and strengthening our determination. Takeo San for his hospitality, many rides and hilarious charisma in my last accommodations in Chiba. My new friend Osamu, Victor and their family for all the rides saving me from the cold after surfing together, adventures climbing Nokogiriyama, showing me Shida Point, and onsens (you rock)! Thank you to all the other people that I rented rooms from and all the people that I may have forgotten. I hope I can meet you if you come to California someday, or the next time I’m in Japan.
Takeo San told me that there is a local bus that goes all the way to Narita Airport for only 300yen. He said that he would give me a ride to the bus stop around 11:00am. In the meantime, I finished packing then enjoyed my last Japanese pastry and onigiri from the konbini (convenient store) with my coffee. When the time came, Takeo took me to the bus stop and I said goodbye.
Airports in Japan are the best; everyting is easy. checking in, going through security, getting food shoping. I wish that we could learn a few things from them and bring it back to the states. If only we looked to other countries to see how to run a system instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Part of the reason I come to japan is to look for inspiration. Look at how the people act, think, and function in socety; and take it back home to work on being better all around. I am bring as much back with me as possible and already planning my next trip back.
On the plane, I slept a little bit and mainly read and listened to music. When the morning light finally made its appearance over the Pacific. I glanced out the window every once and a while to try and see the water between the clouds. I knew that there was swell headed for California and wanted a glimpse of what was on tap. above the clouds I could only see some sparse whitecaps, but I knew there was something there.
When I landed, I made it through the hellscape known as LAX. I was picked up by my mom and Phil. Because LAX is located right next to El Segundo, we drove by the beach on the way home to see how the swell was materializing.
One thing is for sure; whether it Japan or California, I’ll still be always looking for waves.