Japan was all sorts of challenging and eye-opening.
I made my own ramen, accidentally ate grilled cartilage on a stick, and even got inspired enough by the fashionable Tokyoites to buy fancy socks.
A lot of turbulence from the new and unfamiliar was smoothed by my hospitable hosts, who were oh so generous with their time. I loved having a secure place to relax in at the end of the day, and people who were genuinely excited to share culture to come home to. Whether it was something as active as dressing in yukata and going to karaoke, or as relaxed as sitting in the living room together and watching the news, I had fun.
Completely unfamiliar with the language and culture, I would cycle between feeling excited, confused, overwhelmed, frustrated, and then excited again.
But new confidence would come with every resolved conflict, and even though it could be a little exhausting, I know my time here made me better able to adapt to new circumstances. Familiarity came subtly, but it came surely enough.
I will remember my time in Japan as remarkably hot, remarkably confusing days, in which hospitality smoothed over the rough edges and green tea filled my senses.
Arigato, Japan. Those were good times.
Next stop: Sydney, Australia!