Wrapping up the Year

We near the end of 2019, or as some like to call it, the first year of the Reiwa, so it’s just about time to look back and see how we’ve fared—basically, to see if we’ve come away from the experience with more to show for it than merely a few more wrinkles and grey hairs.


At present, all the leaves that are going to turn colour, already have. It may not be quite cold enough to call it winter, but it certainly resembles autumn in every way. Locals continue to insist, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the entire archipelago has four distinct seasons.


During the period of stifling humidity and protracted lethargy known as summer the new crop of JETs arrived for their tour of duty in the Middle of Nowhere. Following the day of Orientation almost none of them have needed our services. Perhaps we need to do more to promote ourselves and assure the general public that we really are open and available to them. We really do want and appreciate visitors. Don’t let our being corralled into an obstructive bricolage of desks suggest otherwise. We had no choice but to be cooped up in a foot locker.


(In this connection, we have yet to resolve the email communication issue. One might wish, or at least I would, that someone in the world would just send us an email to start a conversation so that we’d know if people actually receive and read the emails they ask us to send them.)


At the waning of that season I got to the USA and experience viscerally the continued existence of that nation in some form. According to a website on what it means to be Japanese, the Japanese in general ‘perceive Americans to be friendly, warm-hearted people who live (a) in New York, (b) in Los Angeles, or (c) in the middle of nowhere on a farm in the Midwest’. Is it irony, fate, or odds that all of my relatives meet that description?


(In this connection, as of the present moment the rest of the world has not caught up with the Japanese government’s official proclamation that Japanese given names are to follow the Japanese order even when rendered in Roman letters. Wikipedia is still naming Japanese nationals in the English order, with surname following given name. Perhaps they will catch up in 2020.)


And lastly, this month, lots of folks have harvested copious amounts of yuzu. Everyone seems to be exchanging yuzu jam, which turns out a little bit differently every time, even if people use the same recipe. We usually use ours to make a kind of citrus tea (heavily laced with dark rum).


Best wishes for a lovely set of holidays.