· Joggers—last year, I was jogging in the US before I came to Japan, so Icontemplated jogging in my spare time, but since I didn’t have any spare time, it was a short contemplation. I did look for joggers in my Nikonokami-machi neighborhood to see if, on the off chance I ever did decide to jog, I’d b the only one. I would have been, almost. I saw maybe three joggers in the eleven weeks I was there, and they looked like jogging pained them in cruel and unusual ways. All three of them, whom I saw on different occasions, drug their feet, sweated profusely, and panted as though they’d never catch their breath.
|This is not my photo. I snagged it from newstalkzb.co.zb|
This year, I see real joggers in my Inume-machi neighborhood. They are dressed the part in sweats and jogging shoes, and they really move! It’s so different, that I wonder if I’m in the same town. Well, I am, but a different neighborhood, and that, my dear Watson, makes all the difference.
· Romanji, which is writing in English alphabet and something I was constantly looking for, last year. I did see it on the buses and trains, but hardly ever in the grocery store, but this year, I see Romanji everywhere on signs and packaging, and I wonder how I missed it last. Granted, last year everything was brand new, and I was too busy trying not to by fabric softener instead of laundry detergent! (This happened to some students, and they were not happy campers!)
· Babies and toddlers—I saw them last year, but this year’s crop really takes the kuwaii-cute cake! The babies are strapped to mom’s everywhere we go, and they are all so happy, well most of the time. The little toddlers get to do what their parents want to do but don’t because they (the parents) are too polite, namely—stare. When I catch a cute-pie toddler staring, I say, konnichiwa and wave. They sometimes wave back, but the parent’s always smile in appreciation. I mean heck, they know their kids are frickin’ adorable!
· Shinjuku Station—the largest train station in the world, the one in which I found myself separated from my group but found my destination, in spite of being a Shinjuku-dyslexic. I left last year without ever really feeling comfortable with my navigation skills in the nine-underground levels.
This year, I can find my way out of the Keio Line, West Gate entrance, to Kinokuniya, my fave bookstore, Isetan and Odakyu (fabulous department stores where I can afford to drool but not shop) and back again! Not only that, I can create a route using the subways from Shinjuku and really get lost, I mean have an adventure and get myself back home. J
There are other things besides this short list that I feel like I missed last year, like folding bikes, great clothes and shoe stores with reasonable prices.
Next year I’ll probably be aware of a whole new set of things. (Yes, I’m coming back in 2015!) I’m starting to recognize hiragana characters, and hopefully by next year, I’ll be able to read those darned laundry detergent bottles and make sure I’ve got suds instead of softener. J