leaving Japan. So I wrote out all of the things that needed to be done and how best to go about them, aware that such a list would allow people to enjoy their last few weeks in Japan. I included useful Japanese phrases and vocabulary and even advice on attending farewell parties and procuring letters of recommendation from Japanese companies. I then divided up the tasks into a three-month checklist. The Stress-Free Guide to Leaving Japan was born. Besides the logistics of departing, I thought a section on the emotional aspects of a cross-cultural move was important. Most expats are aware of reverse culture shock, but it’s something more real than just the urge to take off your shoes at the door or accidentally bowing at the clerk in the supermarket. It’s a frustrating and, at times, upsetting experience that can reveal itself in unusual and unexpected ways. Since I had a background in psychology, I was interested in
understanding more about this phenomenon and included it in my research for the e-book. I learned that simply being aware of the strong possibility of reverse culture shock, as well as educating your immediate circle of friends and family about it, is the single-most important step in dealing with it. Our move to California went (almost) swimmingly in the end. The sleepless nights and hard work paid off. We didn’t have time to tackle most of our to-do list, however, so I suspect that we’ll be returning some day. In the meantime, you can find me in a Los Angeles izakaya restaurant or ramen shop, practicing my Japanese, recalling happy memories and dealing with that reverse culture shock the best way I know how. o
The Stress-Free Guide to Leaving Japan can be downloaded at www.sayonarajapan.com.
Literary gems at the Library 11
Tokyo American Club's monthly member magazine