Shortly before I temporarily left Japan, I shipped a big box of stuff to Canada. The postman came right to the dorm for his regular deliveries, helped me fill out the form, and departed with my stuff crooked under his arm. Five years ago, at the conclusion of my high school exchange, I sent a couple of packages as well...but it was a very emotional time, and I couldn't bring myself to open them at first, because I felt like in some way it would officially signal the end to a time I'd treasured. And then days turned into months and then it was just kind of a thing.
Today I opened all three. I barely remembered what I put in the one I shipped two months ago, never mind five years.
Enough of that. Time to jump into nostalgia in the worst way.
Homeroom classes do a lot of activities together, one of which was a...I don't know what you'd call it. A singing contest, is what it was anyway. The more proactive students selected a few songs, we narrowed it down to two, thought up a little skit, and then competed with the other classes in our year. I gather it was a nationwide competition so the winners must have advanced to the intramurals and so on. We didn't win, but practising with everybody is one of my fondest memories from that time. This video from 1rittoru no Namida should give you an idea what it was like. As you can see we performed a half-English, half-Japanese rendition of “A Whole New World” from Disney's Aladdin. I can still recite parts of the Japanese lyrics from memory. My class also did “Oh Happy Day” but I wasn't part of that group. Remember that one pretty well too, though.
Of course I was able to do the English section with no problems, even without being able to read the instructions, but the rest was impossible. I barely attempted the Kokugo. I was later placed in a Math class since that's pretty much the same in every language, but not only is Canadian Mathematical pedagogy woefully inadequate, I was pretty damn horrible at even that.
Hero of another story and all that. This paper was clearly from my Nihonshi class, where I first learned the word “bakufu.” There were a couple of girls in that class who sat near me that I always enjoyed talking to. They were hot.
A T-shirt, which I bought in 2008, that celebrates the Rolling Stones tour of 1981-82, which I was unable to attend because I was too busy not having been born yet.
I find it really rather unbelievable that I ever thought that this was a good use of money, or that I'd be able to find space in my room for them, or, most of all, that I'd ever, ever have the time to build all these fucking things. Amazing how priorities change.
There is one thing I didn't find amongst this clusterfuck. Over those five months, I kept an incredibly dense journal, filled with reams of completely unnecessary detail, that I'd hoped might turn up. The fact that it did not means that I felt it was precious enough to carry it with me in my backpack, and that it is most likely now lodged deep in some other box, in the bowels of my parents' basement, possibly on another plane of reality. If I ever come across it again, or just get the itch to reminisce, I'll share some of the stories from that period – and there are some good ones. For now, I hope you've enjoyed the snippets. Looking through this stuff has given me some perspective on my most recent ryuugaku, as in a lot of ways, they were really very similar: Joyous, painful, thrilling, and ultimately transformative. That is, everything a ryuugaku should be.