But it is hot. I'm lying on by bed at 10.40am on a Saturday morning, with the sky a perfect rectangle of blue through my window. I'm wearing my t-shirt that says I HEART JAPAN, purchased in aid of earthquake relief, and also because I look good in red, dammit, and I'm sweating. Today's plans revolve largely around a visit to the beer gardens, which is no more and no less than the name suggested.
Speaking of names, yesterday at the zoo I met a new foreigner (they keep on talking to me, all the time) and when I introduced myself he asked "How did you get a name like that?!" Um, exCUSE me? How did you become an annoying wanker? So I fed him to a Hokkaido brown bear. It was the kind thing to do.
The new JETs have arrived and the old departed, and I have begun the bitter-sweet countdown to my departure from Japan. I always said that two years would be my limit, but now I face the fact that every event I love about Japan will now be my last one. The beer gardens register on this list, but there are myriad other things in the Japanese calendar year that I'll not find anywhere else.
It's nice to still be able to wax lyrical about my love for Japan after just having spent a purely perfect three weeks back in New Zealand, a three weeks spent driving in cars and eating cheese and drinking wine and watching Gossip Girl and walking on beaches and drinking things out of pink bowls and eating fish and chips and going to op shops and sleeping on living room floors and dancing to Gaga and buying bras and bonding with my 17 year old sister who is maybe the best person I have ever met (but also suspicious, I didnae steal your jumper). Going back after one year was a surreal experience, but surreal only in it's normalcy. Like the Twilight Zone at MIDDAY. You slip back into old patterns like you slip into socks (yup, just go with it). Old cafes are still there, best friends remain, the streets you walk down have different people treading the paths but nothing else changes.
I was lucky enough to go back to a New Zealand where my old life remained, and I could slide back in, briefly, go back in time.
As a holiday, it was pretty much unparalleled.
Japan, with its perfect square of blue sky, and that hot wind, and the crow that sounds like its regurgitating its own heart on balcony (can you regurgitate if you never gurgitated? Can you gurgitate? Is eating "gurgitating"?) has a lot to live up to. Last night I went to a club where my drinks were served by a Japanese man in an Obama face mask, where Nightmare Before Christmas was being projected on the walls, where I was sweet-talked by a hostess called Isis. At 5am I bought gyoza from a convenience store and ate it with vinegar while I Skyped my little sister in her bedroom in France.
Home is where you are, or so the saying goes, but I think it's also where you were.