New Year’s was a lot of fun – I went to Tenth Presbyterian Church for a New Year’s Eve service and to Mitsuwa in Edgewater Park, NJ to eat Japanese food on New Year’s Day. Now I am starting the “Back to Japan” countdown – 11 days left in the U.S. It’s going to be very, very hard to go back to Nagoya since I have so many wonderful friends here that I hate to leave behind, not to mention my family, my church, etc. I know I am going to cry on the plane, I just know it.

I haven’t had much re-entry shock but I find that I am able to see the U.S. as Japanese people might see it. For example,  I find that overall the U.S. is a whole lot dirtier than Japan. Japan is quite clean with very little trash on the street. Also, the customer service here is just awful compared to Japan. As I wrote earlier, I appreciate the genuineness of a lot of customer service here but when it’s bad it’s BAD. In Japan, when you enter a store they shout “welcome!” and there are always people around the store to ask for help if you can’t find something. They also work quickly whereas many times people here move very slowly and talk with other workers while they are bagging your stuff (they would never do that in Japan!). If you do ask for help in Japan they go out of their way to help you with cheerfulness and efficiency. Here I had a hard time finding anyone to ask for help and when I did ask for something they looked at me as if I were bothering them or something. Yikes.

Good points about the U.S. are that even though the food is not healthy it is soooo good! I bought a lot of fun foods to take back with me and I can’t wait to have people over and surprise them with “American” food such as treats from Trader Joe’s, jelly beans, etc. Japanese food is wonderful and delicious and very healthy (in general). I have been astounded at how bad for your health the food is here in the U.S. What a contrast to the yummy fish, noodles, rice, seaweed, and fresh veggies of Japan. I also love seeing all the different colors of people here in the U.S. – it’s so awesome! I love being surrounded by so many cultures and languages again. I am going to miss home so much. Sometimes I think God sent me to Japan to help me to appreciate my home more. I am very thankful for this time in New Jersey.

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On the way to Mitsuwa in NJ

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Mochi pounding ceremony at Mitsuwa (Omochi-tsuki)

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Ladies’ luncheon at  my friend Erika’s house

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Making sushi rolls

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Before you roll the sushi, rice, and ingredients

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