I write this while sitting in the Tiat lounge at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, awaiting our flight back to the United States. Our time of being Tokyo residents has ended, and we begin a new chapter of our lives.
The past week has been incredibly stressful and difficult. Although we are coming home, we are also leaving home. We’ve come to love our adopted country of Japan during the past 4-1/2 years. It is heartbreaking to leave.
Coming through airport security this last time, we filled out a form saying we would not return as residents. Our residence cards were invalidated, and returned to us with a hole punched through them. Such a silly thing…we’ve taken care of those cards, and kept them with us for 4-1/2 years. It was emotionally painful to see them defaced.
So we will return to our beautiful house in the US. It will be great to be nearer our children. We look forward to seeing our cats, which our daughter has been caring for. I know we will feel better once we get back to our old home. And I am fortunate that I will continue working for my company’s Tokyo office. Virtually, for now, but I will have an opportunity to travel back to Japan once pandemic conditions allow.
But we are returning to a different country than we left. An administration of hatred, bigotry and exclusionism has damaged our country, and I fear what the future holds. And the abject failure to control COVID-19 is frightening. We are over 100 times more likely to contract the virus in the US than we were in Japan. Not the “welcome home” I would have hoped for.
I don’t want to end this blog on such a negative tone. Looking back, our time in Japan has been indescribably amazing. We have seen and done so much…much because of living in Japan, but also from the opportunity my job has provided for travel. We have seen the world…and it has been an unforgettable experience.
As we prepare to leave our adopted home, I do so with sadness, but also gratitude for the amazing opportunity we have been provided.
And to my adopted country, I say “domo arigato gozaimasu.” Thank you so much. We look forward to coming back.