I got news this week that my parents have decided to sell the family home and move permanently to their holiday home in Eastbourne… finally giving my brother the motivation to find a place of his own! Anyway, this has got me thinking about some of the things I miss from home, and since I love Japan, you might be surprised at how trivial some of them are.
1. Family. Without a doubt, my mum, dad and brother top the list. Still, we’ve come a long way from writing letters. Now I call them whenever I like, at ridiculously cheap rates using Skype. Next month my mum will finally upgrade from a dial-up connection to broadband and we’ll be able to chat face to face using webcams, for free. It’s not the same as being there, but it certainly brings the family closer together.
2. Friends. While I don’t keep in regular contact with my friends from home, I know that even years of silence means nothing when it comes to true friendship. If I went back to the U.K tomorrow, we’d be out having a drink as if nothing had changed. There’s a saying that goes something like this: “Make new friends but keep the old. The new are silver, the old are gold.”
3. Central heating. Having just bought a house in Japan, I’ve noticed more than ever how cold winter is. Every time you move from one room to another, you’ve got to turn on the heater or air conditioner and wait 30 minutes to ‘unfreeze’. In my parents’ house, you could warm up the whole house at the press of a button.
4. Pubs. I’m talking about real ‘public houses’; the pubs you can go to in the afternoon, sit down with a pack of Walkers crisps and a beer, play pool, watch the footy or just offer crisps to the landlord’s dog. Pubs also tend to be within walking distance of everywhere. Japan’s izakayas are really restaurants and usually require a train or bus ride to get to, particularly if you live in the countryside.
5. The food. Ask any Japanese who has been to the U.K if they liked the food and I bet they pull a ‘yuck’ face. Personally, I love the blandness of British food. Give me baked beans, mashed potato and fish fingers any day! I also love the chocolate, but I’m going to write about that on Valentine’s Day.
6. The scenery. Hills, trees, lakes, rivers, parks, gardens, forests, and historic buildings. What more can I say? For the record though, I also love Japan’s mountains and the changing leaves.
7. Video games. Okay, I’m really starting to struggle with this list now because I’m quite happy here in Japan, so things are getting a bit silly. But… as a video game fan, I find it hard to find anything in Japan that really interests me. Where are all the football manager, cricket and snooker games?
8. Soap operas. I was never a big fan of Eastenders or Coronation Street, but I do remember when the whole country was crazy about Neighbours, and then Home and Away. I realize they were (are?) Australian soaps, but they were huge in the U.K. It was fun talking about the characters’ latest antics with friends, and even people at the bus stop! Japan has some great dramas too, but they are fixed in length. I grew up along with the characters in the never-ending soap operas above.
9. Beds, baths and shoes. There’s only one word to describe why I miss these and that’s “bigger”.
10. Music. They say music is the soundtrack of your life. Well, I still listen to bands from the ’90’s such as Oasis, Blur, Radiohead, Ocean Colour Scene, and Shed Seven. My music interests haven’t really changed because there’s no Top of the Pops, Radio 1 or people recommending anything. Any news on a Take That comeback?If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!