Top Ten List

In the spirit of emotional turmoil, it feels like a good day to post on the top ten things we'll miss about Japan. We'll tackle this from least-to-most important to build great suspense or something.

                                                            Our Top Ten

10. Fashion - I wish I could promise to bring a little splash of Tokyo fashion back to Texas but, truth be told, I absorbed nothing. I did, however, learn I am 100% comfortable occasionally dressing like a street rat while everyone around me struts their stuff. Doesn't faze me. I went to dinner in a ski cap last night. It was unfortunate.

9. Very little crime - Tokyo is crazy safe. I have walked home alone after midnight a few times with absolutely zero hesitation. Subway riders regularly pass out on the trains with no concern for their bags/purses as theft is inconceivable. The low crime rate has been particularly appreciated by Boz as 'safety-first' has never been my motto and I regularly forget to lock our door. (I do, however, always remember to leave every single light in the house on whenever he's away for a night. I'm very safety-oriented when the possibility of a ghost is involved.)

8. Arigatou gozaimasu'ing - Boz and I have grown accustomed to being thanked profusely every time we leave a shop or restaurant. What we've purchased or how much we've spent is completely irrelevant. We could swing into the konbini for a pack of gum and the cashier would send us off with ten arigatous accompanied by a series of bows. We have been followed out the doors of restaurants by bowing servers, thanking us repeatedly as we walk away.

FYI...#8 is on this list because Boz really appreciates it. I appreciate it 50% of the time. The other 50%, I'm thinking 'Please stop talking to me.' (Boz and I do not occupy the same spot on the introvert-extrovert scale...but that's a post (or 10) for another day.)

7. Bowing - The overt and ubiquitous politeness is simply unparalleled. I think it's safe to assume Japanese people have all the same thoughts and feelings experienced by the rest of the world, but (at least publicly) they're well-masked under a guise of politeness. Everyone bows ALL the time. While this does contribute to an overall feeling of peacefulness, I really just love this custom because it precludes hand shaking. I hate touching strangers. I'm Team Bowing.

6. Challenging foods - Boz and I have eaten so many practically inedible 'foods' this year. I have violated all but one of my dietary restrictions (the lone survivor being my ban on octopus. I love octopi and will never play a deliberate part in their harm). A vast majority of our dinners with B's colleagues have involved substantial psychological trauma for me...and great amusement for Boz. It's been such a unique opportunity for growth (and theatrics). Gonna miss it.

5. Our view - We live on the 25th floor of a downtown building in one of the most heavily populated cities in the world. There are so many different types of beauty...and a lit-up Tokyo skyline in the middle of the night is definitely one of them.

(Ah...there we go. I was cruising along just fine until I mentioned our view. Cue the chest-tightening. If anyone is considering moving to Japan...don't. It's simply not worth the goodbye.)

4. Public transportation - The subway and bus system in Tokyo is so reliable and accessible, we never considered getting a license or missed having a car. Predictably, we have taken full advantage of the subway system numerous times in the form of way too many cocktails. Hopefully we'll get a chance to address our subway system nostalgia in rehab.

3. Baseball - The Swallows are Japan to the Vegetables. The enthusiasm displayed at Japanese baseball games turned me into a die-hard fan of the sport. We went to 15 baseball games this year and were still just crushed when the season ended. Boz and I sat in the stands through stadium clean-up at the last Swallows game...we looked out over the field as they dimmed the lights on a completely empty ballpark...and we both got choked up. That pretty much says it all.

2. Mount Fuji - The big boy is consistently visible from the T-Cube this time of year (chilly months) so I have been watching him in all his snow-covered glory every morning. He isn't snow-capped...he's snow-covered. He's stunning. I have fallen madly in love with many inanimate objects over my lifetime but I think this one takes the cake. I once read an article about a mentally ill woman who believed she was married to the Eiffel Tower. I'm not saying we're there yet...but it's probably best I'm leaving before Fuji proposes.

1. Anne, Brendy & Eleanor Lange - Boz and I have cultivated some really special friendships with Japanese people over the course of the year. We are all really sad that our time has come to an end and we've vowed to keep in touch and visit each other in both the U.S and Japan. However, the language barrier and cultural differences have made it so that these relationships can only go 'so far'. Subtle references to pop culture, dry humor, and sarcasm simply do not translate easily (or, in some cases, at all). This realization has created a new level of appreciation for our American friendships (and their inclination to inspire debauchery). When Boz and I think back on this year, one of the enduring memories will be of a rockstar American family, the Langes. We met Brendy & Anne in the spring and have spent many a couple's evening bringing Tokyo to its knees. Brendy is the most gregarious, laid-back, kind-hearted dude you'll ever meet...and Anne somehow simultaneously exudes the most warm, gracious nature while regularly lobbing off-color jokes at just the right moment. They are the type of people we would draw up as the perfect 'couple friends' and their daughter Eleanor is a hilarious two-year old firecracker. Boz and I know this friendship will easily stretch across the ocean...but that doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye. I'm incapable of saying this in, Langes, I know you'll read this and all I can say is: when we think of Japan, y'all are our #1.

Anais Nin once professed, "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." I must warn you that I will continue to write about Japan long into the forseeable future as I wish I could re-live 2014 one hundred times.

What a year.