Japan - Almost There
In just a few days time, we'll be back in Japan for the long haul.
The stakes weren't nearly as high the first time I moved. Back in 2005, my biggest concerns were whether I could charge my Game Boy Advance off Japanese mains and if I could remember how to order a beer. This time around, I'm more concerned with finding a job and whether my daughter will cope with the upheaval.
I'm also concerned that my Wii U won't work with Japanese voltage.
We have a weekend of frantic packing ahead of us, but most of the preparation is now complete. Our twenty three shipping boxes were collected last week and are now sat on a boat somewhere between England and Japan. I purchased my Yen, after finally accepting that the exchange rate wasn't going to improve any time soon, and have stocked up on prescription medicine and over-the-counter Marmite. I've bought new shoes, shirts and suits because nothing quite fits right in Japan - arms are too short, chest too tight and you've a better chance of seeing Pigumon riding the train than finding a fashionable shoe in a size 11.
Lists have been ticked, forms signed and banks informed of our impending departure. Once we arrive in Japan, the next wave of pain-in-the-arse jobs will commence. Register with the local council, open bank accounts, arrange health insurance, get a phone, convince my daughter that it's 8pm, not lunchtime etc.
There's so much to do that I sometimes forget to get excited about our move. And I am excited, as I've wanted this change for some time, though I doubted it would ever happen. To alleviate some of the pressure and remind myself of the excitement to come, I like to concentrate on a few of the smaller things that I'm looking forward to. Inconsequential things, but things to get excited about nonetheless.
1. Exploring with my daughter: New sights to see, for her at least. Familiar experiences seem new and exciting again when shared with your child.
2. Golden Week Catch-up: We arrive just two days in advance of almost a week of national holidays. It'll be a great chance to meet up with family and friends, and I'm sure we'll squeeze in a spot of karaoke too.
3. Beer gardens: I'm a simple man, who likes simple things, like drinking beer outside. Once the rainy season is over, department stores open rooftop beer gardens, which is a perfect excuse to get inebriated before dinnertime. Don't judge me.
4. Tonkatsu: I love Japanese cuisine, and Tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlets) might be my favourite dish.
5. Dark Souls 3: I'm suffering form Lothric withdrawal. I sold my PS4 last week (I went for option no.3) and have been surviving on a meagre diet of Vita. I'm looking forward to getting my new PS4 in a couple of weeks time and trying to remember what exactly I was doing the last time I played DS3.
6. Some heat: English spring is always pleasant, but summer is a perpetual disappointment. I just want a bit of warmth - remind me of this In July when I'm melting and yearning for overcast skies and jumper weather.
7. Being surrounded by Kanji: My grammar and vocab studies have ground to a halt, but I continue to study kanji daily. I quite enjoy it, and it's a great feeling when you can read and understand a kanji-filled passage of text. Reading every sign and staring at every poster on my daily commutes, I'll be studying without even knowing it.
8. Tokyo at night: Tokyo is a different city at night. A grey, urban sprawl by day, it comes alive when the sun sets and the lights go on. I love riding the train in the evening, listening to music and staring out the window. It never gets old.
And that's that. The next time I post, we'll be in Japan. The dreaded, tearful goodbyes and equally dreadful flight will be behind us and we'll be moving forward with our new life.
Goodbye England, hello Japan.