SO: Japan. It is somewhat North of here, I believe. Somewhat colder, though frequently warmer. Inhabited, largely, or so the fallible Wikipedia assures me, by the Japanese, a conservative, polite peoples with an unfortunate historical bent for bloody warfare which seems utterly at odds with a culture that will bow upon every meeting. Cherry blossoms, Hello Kitty, origami. Kamikaze pilots and ninjas. If this is not already apparent, my basic knowledge about my country of destination falls short of the average primary school child. And yet, it is my signed-upon, rigorously-contracted fate to live there for a period not under a year. My knowledge of the language is limited to Hello, Goodbye and I Don't Understand, all of which seem important but somehow insufficient if I am to accomplish my goals. I aim to make friends, to be good at my job, to learn things. I aim to preserve a relationship of 3.5 years. I aim to stay in contact with friends as they venture into their own, disparate forays. And I aim to be myself, hopefully a writer, definitely a disciple of the written word, definitively a discerning consumer of wine (actually, not always discerning).
The final days before my departure are nerve-wracking, and that is before I even venture to think about what awaits. There is my room, a lovely sun-trap in Aro Valley which nobody wishes to rent from me (RENT IT). There are ten thousand black skirts from Glassons to be packed (I need all of them). There are four hundred million books, all of which I wish to see Japan with me (they are my CHILDREN), the exercise of which might tempt exceeding my 23kg limit.
Japan. Hokkaido. Sapporo. Sumikawa. Soon to be my address, my home. But this is my mailbox and my wee window to Wellington. So comment me, follow me, read me when you should be studying/working/monitoring the media. Because this is where Japan is.