As my JET programme contract ended on the 31st July 2018, the time has come to say goodbye to Shimonoseki. Fortunately, ALTs like to leave in style, and so there have been a few enjoyable trips and gatherings to mark our time in Yamaguchi.
Firstly, we visited Karato fish market for some top notch sushi and fried blow fish. We enjoyed a very windy day on the waterfront and followed it up with a nice coffee on the Uzu balcony, overlooking the Kanmon Straight. The Kanmon Straight is famous throughout Japan, offering large trade ships a short cut from the East coast to China and Korea. This means you can enjoy watching many ships of all shapes and sizes cruising past. We have been very lucky to have this waterway on our door-step for two years! Here we said goodbye to Kat and her husband.
We then had an (almost) final meal at the amazing Italian in Ayaragi with Noriko, Hinako, and Mizuki along with Kate. We enjoyed delicious Gnocchi (probably the best in the world) and great company on this last meal (for now) together. Hinako and Mizuki had prepared some questions for us in English, finding out about our experience in Japan, and giving us a chance to reflect on our achievements. We are so lucky to have made great friends like these an been shown many unique aspects of Japanese culture, we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to experience and enjoy.
This meal was followed up with coffee at The Beat as we said our final goodbyes to the beautiful views and relaxing experiences there and meeting for supper at Noriko’s once more (in fact, this was our final ever evening in Shimonoseki and the following day we were seriously hanging, she knows how to throw a party!) I am certain we will see Noriko and her family again, as they have been so important in our experiences of Japan, we will have to repay that favour in the future. Perhaps in the UK, perhaps somewhere else…
Next up came the farewells to our Kyudo teachers and friends. Aki and Keiko. They have taught us Kyudo, Japanese archery, for over 18 months and have been constant friendly faces each week. The final week of Kyudo saw me hit the target with one arrow and then the next hit the wall, flew back at me, and snapped the end of, finally resting about half way back to the dojo from the target. I am nothing if not consistent. Dan on the other hand hit the target three times with bounce arrows (they don’t count…), struck the wood of the edge of the target twice (almost impossible to do and not hit the target) and had his most consistent play ever. But…failed to actually hit the target! Still, two weeks ago he got six hits in one evening so…that is what makes us a great couple, we come at things from two very different places! We had an emotional farewell and enjoyed a tea break of British tea and dunking biscuits. WE will never forget the smiles and kindness of our Kyudo gang.
Sadly, the leavers party had to be cancelled as epic rains which led to disastrous flooding hit Japan. Instead, we have enjoyed coffee in Yamaguchi city and other smaller several hangouts to say goodbye tp other JET ALTs in the area. This does mean we haven’t been able to say farewell to everyone we hoped to, but mental farewells have been said and we will always hold dear our random conversations and meetings with people from English speaking countries around the world.
For some of our good friends here it is not so much goodbye for ever, but goodbye for now, and see you soon. For others, our experiences together in Japan will be our locked in our memories forever, and we will always look back on this experience with a lot of happiness and pride. Yamaguchi, you have been EPIC.
So, for the final time…thanks #Yamaguchi and #Shimonoseki.