A couple of weeks ago I returned to Japan for a short working visit. It has not been a smooth transition. Firstly, getting a firm grip on the language again has been harder than I expected. Speaking Japanese is not like riding a bike. It is not like riding a bike at all in fact.
I learnt Japanese after qualifying as an adult, but those language lessons feel like a long time ago. Sometimes I have absolutely no idea what someone is trying to tell me. It is quite worrying, until I remember I have exactly the same problem with the English language.
The smaller size of things such as chairs, tables and people have been a shock too. In previous spells living in Japan, I was never exactly elegant, but I don`t think I was quite the destroyer of worlds I have become, stumbling about all over the place like an elephant trying to put on pyjamas. A written apology stapled to my forehead would save a lot of time.
After a long time back in England, Japanese food has become extraordinary again. Burdock is back to being an exotic delicacy again; raw horse or boiled locusts are not normal anymore, and seaweed for breakfast is back to being vaguely amusing.
On TV the other day I saw Pumpkin curry has gone on sale to celebrate Halloween. This advert features a boy band. I watched it gobsmacked, full of questions. So pumpkin curry is the new Halloween tradition. But what is Halloween for? And what is tradition? And what about the poor burdock?
I can`t really feel at home here; I don`t think I ever really did. But I do feel comfortable and curious, awed by it all, if a little confused sometimes, like an old goat at a badger`s birthday party. Know what I mean?