A wintery return to Toyokoro

Last month, I made my annual visit to Summerland, thanks to the Toyokoro Board of Education.

Last month, I made my annual visit to Summerland, thanks to the Toyokoro Board of Education.

It was a very nice, although busy trip but I’m happy to be back home in Toyokoro.

While in Summerland, the weather was beautiful, and clear for the most part, so it was quite a shock when I stepped off the plane in Sapporo to a wall of cold, snowy weather.

In Toyokoro, however, the weather is beautiful, and clear even though it snowed last week, it was all but gone by the end the week (shattering my hopes to snowboard one last time.)

For this month, I would like to tell you a little tale of what happened when I tried to come back home to Japan.

After we got off the plane, we were reminded once again of the fact that things (even in cities) shut down usually after 8 or 9 p.m. in Japan.

Our flight was delayed, so we rushed to make the last train back home to Obihiro but alas, there we stood on the train platform, bags in tow, watching the last train leave.

We were mere minutes late, and the train station terminal was practically deserted leaving us with one choice – take a three hour taxi ride to Obihiro, or face missing the first few hours of work the next day.

The next day was March 31.

This is one of the most important, busiest, and stressful days in Japanese offices for the next day is the start of the new fiscal year, and is the last day for many workers in that particular office. So, needless to say, we couldn’t miss work!

Tired, grumpy and disheartened, we convinced a taxi driver to drive us home through what seemed like the makings of a snowstorm. He happily complied and drove us home.

Three hours later, we arrived home, and I gave my first Japanese tip, trying to convince him to buy some coffee before he sleepily started his treacherous journey back home to Sapporo. (One thing worth mentioning is – taxi drivers are some of the friendliest people I’ve met in Japan, along with gas station, and convenience store workers.)

The next day I arrived at work, with under six hours of sleep, $400 poorer, and, shockingly, not jet-legged.

Getting to Canada and back was a pretty hectic journey. I’ve never experienced worse luck traveling, and I hope it stays that way.

But all in all, I’ve never appreciated being home more. Food, family and friends (yes, in that order) made the trip one of the best.

Despite such adversity, I am still thankful for my job, and for my life here in Japan.

Japanese proverb: Ryuutou dabi – dragon, head, snake, tail (meaning: the beginning is great, and majestic, while the ending is poor and underwhelming.)

Anna Marshall is in Summerland’s sister city of Toyokoro, Japan as the assistant English teacher.