「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


The weight of memories

By Samantha Loong


As the end of the year approaches, I can't help but think about numbers. For some people, this is about how much weight they've gained or lost, how much money they've made, or how many new friends they've met. But for me, the numbers I'm thinking about are years. Next year will be twelve years since I first came to Japan to work, and eighteen years since I came to Japan for the very first time. This year also marked the ten-year "friendniversary" — that's friend anniversary — of my friendship with a very special group of people.

Many people have made my experience of Japan a positive one. Firstly, I have my patient, generous, hilarious host families to thank. They were not the stereotypes I'd read about in textbooks. I had host dads who loved cooking. I had a very active 60-something host mum who bought a separate apartment just so she could host parties without bothering, or being bothered by, her husband. And I had host families where my host grandmother was the CEO of a company.

Then there are my Japanese workmates who I met at the first Japanese company I worked for. I will forever be grateful that our department had its own room, so only my immediate team members were witnesses to my embarrassing Japanese gaffes. They were so supportive, even when I was overly polite to colleagues on internal phone calls and overly casual to important customers on external phone calls. They talked me through office politics, and were great fun to hang out with.

I can't forget everyone else I've worked with or worked for. From people with their own businesses, to teachers, writers and volunteers, everyone has been a true inspiration. And then of course there are those friends from ten years ago. I'm not sure how many friendships formed outside a gay bar on Halloween night survive the test of time, but ours has. Life would certainly not be the same without any of these people.

This year, a friend was preparing to move back to Japan after being relocated for a few months to the U.S. She cursed the phenomenon of suitcases being heavier when you return from somewhere, even though you haven't bought anything extra. My reply to her was: "思い出、重いで〜" omoide, omoide ("Well, memories can be heavy").

Memories — good and bad — are something we carry with us wherever we go. Some people find themselves dragged down by only the bad ones. But rather than weighing me down, when I think of all the memories I've had with my small but significant group of friends, workmates and host families, I go into the new year feeling rather light.



The Japan Times ST: December 25, 2015

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版