Leaving America — What do I miss?

Another question: When will you return to America?  The answer:  I have no plans to travel anywhere outside of Japan.

“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.

People —

  • 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!

Places ––

  • 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.

Food ––

  • 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.

Shopping ––

  • 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.

Things ––

  • 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!
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Hi, I’m Paul Myer. Thank you for visiting my website. I hope you enjoy my writing and photography. If you want to stay connected, please subscribe to receive posts via email.

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