Starting life in a new country is often nerve racking. There is a lot of getting used to; a new environment, new culture, new ways of doing things and of course for Japan, a completely new language. Often, the simplest things you used to do with ease in your home country becomes immensely complicated and difficult here. Couple that with a lack of friends and the responsibility to make sure life goes on normal for the rest of the family, the anxiety can often lead to grief and depression.
Yes, starting life in Japan isn't exactly a bed of roses but it is not always gloomy either. For me, my experience in Japan has surprised me, there is actually much to anticipate in every day life here. All these details has kept me going, keeping me sane and happy regardless of everything else foreign that I have to deal with.
I personally think the change in seasons is what creates all the anticipation. The change in season brings about a change in temperature, change in way of dressing, change in choice of food, change in scenery, change in daylight, change in activities and much more.
Let's start with spring, the best gift from mother nature. Flowers start blooming, leaves start spouting. It is almost like nature congratulating us for surviving the cold winter. Food choices suddenly open up, you get the fresh produce like strawberries, rapeseed, bamboo shoots, tangerines flooding the shelves of supermarkets. Now you can bring the family out to the parks in weekends without the fear of freezing. You also get to shed the thick gloomy clothes and change into something more flowy and colorful. Of course, there is the plum and cherry blossom viewing, street festivals and hanami with friends. All these just brighten up my days, at least until April. Then comes golden week, the time when we go on extended road trips with the entire family, going to remote places, exploring Japan and her beauties, before the weather gets really hot.
Summer is brutal here with the heat and the mozzies, but there's lots of fun too. It is during summer when the river parks and splash pools and water parks start their business. During the summer holidays, my kids and I would pack our bentos and head to the park or stream and spend a whole half a day. Them splashing in the water and me sitting on the side soaking my feet and reading my book. It can be very pleasant for everyone. Summer you get amazing food too. Corn from Hokkaido that's sweet like candy, watermelons, pears, peaches, tomatoes and so much more, all waiting to help cool you down.
Fall comes as a relief to the unbearable heat. Also, I can finally get the kids off my back and send them off to school and have some time to myself. It is then I love seeing how the ginkgo trees lose their leaves and get pruned to the point of barren. This is also the magical time to go soak in onsens as you admire the red leaves. Hiking becomes more comfortable again. You get to start getting your cold weather fashion ready for the next half a year. A pretty busy time I have to say. My favorite food also come by in the fall; lucious grapes, persimmons, oysters, sword mackerels and so many other harvests, getting the farms empty for winter!
Finally we are back to winter, time to go skiing and onset again. Now we get to feast on crabs and fatty fishes loaded up to survive the cold water (sorry fishes). Going to bed in my fluffy comforter will then be my daily goal. Getting ready for Christmas and New Years occupies much of this season. Also, I get a chance to go home!
See, there is so much to see, to feel, to touch, to eat throughout the year I often forget about the mundane difficulties. It is almost like being a tourist in your resident country. Not a bad thing at all!