Two more days until our “home”ward-bound flight back to the US… and re-establishing our life there.
It has been kind of a rough week for us… totemo taihen desu… to begin to reverse the process that brought us to Japan as “American Expats” four and a half years ago.
When we came here, we never expected it to be this hard to leave… Tokyo has become our home. And it is with much sadness, and heartbreak, that we have to leave it.
I know we keep going on and on about this… sorry… but we never expected to love a foreign country as much as we have come to love Japan. All week long… through all the “to do” things we have had to take care of… we kept thinking of all the things we are going to miss about Japan.
I have a friend who was an expat living in France when the COVID-19 pandemic started. Her husband was an exchange professor at a university there. When the pandemic hit France back in March, and they had to shut down classes and go to online teaching, they debated about whether it would be best to go home or stay. But suddenly… that decision was taken away from them, and they had one day’s notice that they were going to have to pack up and leave for home. What a nightmare!!!
But… yet… as traumatic as those days had to have been for them… they were over and done in a few days and they have since settled back into their US life.
For us… it has been kind of the opposite, with way too much time to stew and worry and overthink every little detail of the process. Too much time to think about all the things we will miss, and all the things we haven’t had time yet to do.
This week has been an ordeal. We moved out of our apartment to a hotel on Sunday. Monday morning, bright and early… the packers/shippers came to pack up our apartment. Four packers and three hours later, they drove away with 50 cartons containing our past four years in Tokyo. And it was sad to see our beloved little apartment so empty. We still had our rental furniture… but no more internet.
Tuesday, the rental company came in the morning and took away all the rest of the things in our apartment… our furniture, our cookware and dishware, and washing machine… microwave. The apartment was depressingly sad and empty. We lovingly cleaned it. Tuesday afternoon we had to go with our relocation company rep to de-register our apartment address. In Japan, everyone has a residence card with their address registered with the local ward office. I went there 4 1/2 years ago to have our address printed on the back of our residence cards.
Then… we had some banking issues that we needed help with. We have had a bank account here since we moved to Japan. But the banking system in Japan can be notoriously difficult to navigate even if you can speak the language. For a non-fluent Japanese speaker… it can be almost impossible. We had our relocation rep to help us with that… as well as with the cancellation of my Japanese phone plan.
Today… Wednesday, was the check-out inspection of our apartment. It was brief and easy, but at the end we had to turn in our keys, and say our last goodbyes to our tiny 30th floor Tokyo high-rise apartment. It was a rather sad and subdued walk back to our hotel.
My husband is still doing some work and video meetings from our hotel, and will be tomorrow as well. But on Friday, in the early afternoon, we will leave for Haneda International Airport for a 12 hour flight back to the United States. After a 4 hour layover in Detroit, we will make the final part of our journey back “home” to Atlanta.
It will be a slow and sad transition back to our “American” life… but we have time… lots of time in quarantine from COVID-19. I know it will all get done, and it will all be fine in the end. But for now, we are already missing Tokyo.