When I left on that plane back in 2014 I knew it was for good. I knew I wouldn’t be moving back to my hometown again.
All the other times I’d left it had been with a heavy heart and carrying a burden, i.e. running away from something. This was different.
I was free and knew in my heart and deep down in my soul that it was the right decision.
In five days I’m going back for a holiday and not once have I referred to it as going home. I’ve started to think about how I will feel and whether I’ll have reverse culture shock.
It’s not a worry that’s hanging over my head; it’s just a kind of detached observation I’ve made.
My entire time here in Japan I haven’t once wished I was back in Australia. God knows I’ve had many times I thought I would because there have been many low, low times, but my friends who I consider family here, have made me feel I am home and are always here for me.
Japan is of course at times very, very different, but I’ve never experienced culture shock in my travels or life here.
I guess my adaptable nature and my ability to fit in anywhere has helped but I think I just accept that cultures are different and that is that.
I’m not saying I agree or support everything that happens here, but I feel the same way about things in Australia too.
Someone asked me the other day if it was possible and laws changed here in Japan, would I give up my Australian citizenship to become a Japanese citizen.
I didn’t even think about it.
Absolutely not, I replied.
To me, Australia and being Australian represents the ultimate in freedom. The values and characteristics that are at the very core of my identity are a product of being born and raised as an Australian. I may adopt new habits (values, ways of thinking etc.) and drop old ones, but who I am, on that deeper level, will always remain. I wouldn’t change that for anyone.
I guess you could say I’m fiercely patriotic, yet for numerous reasons I choose to live in Japan. That doesn’t make me any less Australian.
Just the other day I accidentally said sorry in English to a Japanese woman. I followed it immediately in Japanese. I can tell though that it’s going to happen a lot in Australia (using Japanese first I mean).
I know two years ago when I went to Taiwan that I was desperately homesick for Japan.
The overwhelming feeling of what can only be considered camaraderie was very obvious as I stood in line for the plane grinning stupidly at the Japanese businessmen around me.
Ah, I thought, a beautiful, musical language I can understand (sometimes!)
Stepping off the bus back at Hiroshima Station I felt a sense of comfort, security and familiarity I haven’t experienced anywhere else in the world.
And as I nodded in acknowledgment to a man I knew from my favourite bar, I thought, yep Hiroshima, I’m back, I’m home.
I wonder if I’ll be homesick in Australia?