This morning, there’s a beautiful sound filling my apartment; it’s called “The Sound of Laundry Being Washed”. Why is this such a beautiful sound you ask? Well, I’ll tell you: I think it is the most beautiful sound in the world right now because trying to figure out my Japanese washing machine with buttons and knobs labeled only in kanji and kana was the longest, most difficult ordeal of this whole week. This includes the incident that I fondly call, “The Morning I Used All of My Nopes Because I found a Baby Millipede On My Bathroom Wall.”
If this is at least your second time tuning in, then maybe you’ve read my previous blog post about living in Japan, in which I cried like a baby because life is hard, and I hadn’t been able to find my ‘big girl’ pants yet. If you have, then thanks! I’m sure it wasn’t easy to read because it certainly wasn’t easy to write. If you haven’t, then trust me when I tell you that the above description is a pretty apt one, and you don’t have to go back to read it yourself, unless you really want to read five paragraphs of me whining. Since then, I have had a chance to experience some of the really neat things about living in Japan and working in Japanese schools.
For instance, last Saturday, I was able to go to a Fireworks festival in nearby Yatsushiro, which was amazing! I tried to get some pictures of it, but really the pictures just didn’t do them justice and I only got a few that looked even remotely presentable. They set many of the displays to music, and one was set to the Japanese version of “Let it Go.” A funny thing I’ve learned about the people of Japan, they love Frozen. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve either heard the song directly or heard people make reference to it and the movie characters. Which brings me to the next neat thing about my life in Japan: working in the schools and getting to see their performances and competitions. This past week alone, I was able to go to a recitation contest with my junior high schools, and see part of a music festival that was held at one of my elementary schools. During the music festivals, I heard even more renditions of “Let it Go”- it was sung by a couple of the choirs and played on all sorts of neat instruments from recorders, to accordions, to all manner of percussion instruments. Literally, the cutest thing I saw all week!
So, yes, things have gotten better, but not without a lot of trial and error; in fact, the first night I realized I was in over my head with the washing machine, I cried. I felt so helpless and confused, and to make matters worse, I couldn’t help but think how easy it would have been if I just stayed in the States. But then where’s the fun in that? Yes, I’ve chosen a hard path, but I’m starting to see small victories- like finally figuring out my washing machine- and to find joy in little moments- like when my elementary school students try to give me presents of flowers and seeds they find during afternoon recess. Those are the things that remind that maybe I’ll be okay after all, and make me happy with the decisions I’ve made to come out here.