Thank You, Reverse Culture Shock, and A Call For Help

Hello all! It's been a little while, and my family is now back in the U.S. after a whirlwind move from Japan. I've got business to still take care of here and elsewhere, but have been struggling with health problems, reverse culture shock and attempts to get settled back in the States, so I appreciate your understanding and patience.

So, first things first! I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all the support, emotional and financial, the past few months. We wouldn't have been able to get by without your help, and it's brought me to tears more than once. I've learned a lot about community after living in Japan, and especially so after starting this blog. I feel like for the first time I've seen just how supportive, understanding and helpful people in a community want to be, instead of being motivated by (often unsaid) expectations and obligation. It's humbling to see how much you want to help and to feel how concerned and caring you are. Thank you for showing me this and for helping to take care of my family as we've made this transition.

On the way to Narita Airport, seeing Tokyo for the last time

I'm hoping as I have more time and energy I'll be able to go into this in more detail, but reverse culture shock has felt similar to me as it did when I first arrived in Japan. I notice all the new and exciting things, but at the same time am constantly overwhelmed with the number of options, and excess, here in the States. It's unsettling, and makes me miss, to some degree, having less options in Japan, because it made life more simple.

I've also been surprised by how casual people dress, although I'm from the northwest and I know it's not that way elsewhere in the country, but it's nearly the opposite of Japan: people out in grungy jeans, pajama pants, yoga pants, on a regular basis. Not everyone, but probably 75-80% of people. Plenty of people dress down in Japan too, especially depending on what part of Japan you live in, but more often than not when I went out people, particularly women, were dressed up. Neither is right or wrong, but just different and something I notice now that I never paid attention to in the past.

I bow constantly when apologizing, especially when driving. And then I remember to wave, although the person is probably gone by that point. I have the urge to use "sumimasen" at the grocery store instead of "excuse me". And as this is the west coast, occasionally I hear Japanese when out and about and get a bit excited, as if somehow it's a bit of "home" here at "home".

I feel like people talk to each other all the time here, and maybe I didn't notice it before, and though it happens in Japan too, it feels different too. We're in a smaller city, so that could also have something to do with it. The woman who told me her whole life story at Macy's a few weeks, despite the fact I was trying to hold and entertain a rambunctious toddler (I wasn't upset to listen to her story, but distracted on account of the toddler). Or the people who keep striking up conversation in public restrooms.

And though I'm excited to have a lot of things we can only easily get in the States, I miss so much about Japan. I'm sad that I'll be missing the hanami season this year. I scroll through my Japan pictures and find myself nostalgic and missing all the adventures we had, even close to home. And now we're here in western Washington where it's gray and drizzly all the time. Depressing. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad we're back for different reasons, but doesn't mean I don't miss Japan.

Already missing the cherry blossoms...

We're still in limbo as my husband (David) looks for work, but we're hoping to get something figured out this month.

And now, a call for blog help! Many of you have expressed interest in writing, research, or other help for SiJ. If you're still interested, whether you've written me or not, David is going to be getting people organized into different roles. If you just want to write one post, that's fine, if you only want to help with research or translation, that's fine too. If you want to be a regular contributor, we'd love to have you. Or if you're willing to help with social media, marketing or just answering emails, these are all things I could use help with. We can't offer any monetary reimbursement, but I can say that it's a great way to network and help establish yourself if you're looking for a platform to do it on. It's brought me numerous opportunities since I started it a few years ago!

I was approached by several to buy SiJ and/or the content, but one thing became clear to me in all this -- I feel that I have started a basis for the community I wanted SiJ to be. And I want to continue that if possible. I don't think SiJ is mine; I really believe it's ours. Our community of knowledge and support. No conditions, no subscriptions, nothing like that. We just want to help out others through what we've gone through to help make expat life in Japan a little bit easier.

So if you'd like to be involved, please send David an email at

That said, thank you so much. Thank you for blessing us, for being this community, and for reading. You've done so much for us, and we're so thankful. I wish the very best to each and every one of you!

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