“What doe I miss about America?” It is the most asked question I hear from foreign ex-pats and Japanese people.
In truth, I had not really devoted much time to the question. Posting my thoughts on life in Japan after leaving America three years ago, I prepared the following annotated list.
- Family: Having maintained a distant relationship with my daughters for nearly 20 years, I treasure our e-mail conversations, exchange of photos and an occasional FaceTime call.
- Friends: Sadly I have few close friends. Maintain e-mail connection with some UMaine colleagues, follow other friends on social media (but I rarely post on Facebook); Happy to be connected with good friends from my ABC and Washington DC days.
- Teaching @ UMaine:
- Students –– they kept me young, alert and engaged
- International Student Festival & Farewell Dinner –– my two favorite annual events; great performance; inspirational remarks and tearful goodbyes.
- Graduation Ceremony –– my proudest moment as an “Accidental Professor” was walking with my colleagues dressed in academic regalia.
- Hockey games –– Nothing compares to the noise and excitement of the Alfond Arena on hockey night, win or lose never a dull moment!
- Crystal Lake: listening to the Loons, gardening, my hide-away hobby workshop.
- Woodmans: my Orono hangout; nothing comparable here, no place to keep my beer mug!
- Falmouth Country Club: 18 holes of golf most weekdays on a great course; enjoyable competition and social engagement with a likeable group of fellow seniors.
- Sanibel Island: Remains my most favorite place in the world; where I wished to “retire”; such wonderful memories; thankful house I built remains a family treasure, praying it survived hurricane Ian.
- 5 Guys hamburger/fries/milk-shake: lots of wanna-be American burger joints in Tokyo, but I have found nothing that compares.
- White Castle hamburgers: admittedly an acquired taste, I have been eating these unique burgers since I was a kid; were available frozen at Sam’s in Maine, I have asked Costco to import them to Japan!
- Italian sausage: all kinds of great Italian imported food available …. but no hot or sweet sausage??? great selection of other sausage types of little consolation.
- Whole Food’s salad bar: often a quick and wholesome meal, salad bars here disappointing by comparison.
- Hodgman’s Frozen Custard: it was hard enough to deal with their winter closing; soft-serve ice cream here is a poor substitute.
- Soft-shell crabs: a seasonal treat missing from this sea-food paradise.
- Roast turkey sandwiches on rye bread: one of my favorites; except for a one-time expensive restaurant turkey dinner in November, turkey is absent in Japan.
- Trader Joes: my go-to source for comfort food & “two-buck chuck”
- Marshalls/TJ Maxx: finding everything I didn’t know I needed at fabulously low prices.
- My 1973 FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser: feels like I forgot to bring a part of me to Japan.
- My BBQ Grill: after nearly every day use, dealing with Tokyo outdoor grilling restriction is difficult.
- My accordion: debated bringing; it would have been a welcome companion during pandemic isolation; could have been fun to be an occasional Tokyo park/street musician!