Monday, February 7, 2011

Mata ne

Hakone is a mountainous region of Japan known for its abundance of hot springs. Among the many hot springs is a family-friendly, themed onsen park called Yunessun. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. They have traditional Japanese onsen, where you confidently soak naked with members of your own sex, but they also have a bathing suit zone where boys and girls can romp around together, mingling in harmony and equality. It's in this area where the “themed” part of the park comes in. You see, it’s not all boring hot bubbling tub after tub. The onsen have themes. There’s a chocolate one, for instance. A coffee one, you actually soak in brewed coffee. A green tea one. There’s even a sake onsen, and you can sip actual sake from a spout! The place is simply amazing.

Overlooking the rolling hills of Hakone on a recent chilly afternoon, steam rising from our shoulders, our feet submerged in 104 degree red wine, Sherry turned to me and her eyes said let’s do this more often. And to that my eyes replied let’s do this always, life’s too short. And her eyes said life isn’t short, Brandon. It’s the longest thing any of us knows. The most beautiful too, and as long we keep doing things like this we’ll never lose sight of that. And my eyes said to hers you’re right.
That was a nice day. And our visit back to Japan was back-to-back nice days. Except that day when Sherry and I were both zombies breaking out in cold sweats and visiting the restroom to vomit after a long night out. That was a bad day. (Again, our humblest apologies, Masumi. Thank you for tolerating and babying us. You're a pal and a confidant.)

When Sherry and I left Japan and moved back to the States a little over two years ago, I began crafting a blog entry to tie up our time abroad. It was a list of all the things I had fallen in love with and would miss savagely, brutally, painfully. The entry quickly got out of hand, though, and I could never bring myself to stop listing things. So I just stopped writing. And the list sat on my laptop for the next couple years, in the Blog folder, an unfinished document titled Goodbye.

One thing I learned from our nine-day vacation is that I still don’t like saying goodbye to that country. So although I still won’t revisit that document with the intention of wrapping it up, I will borrow a line, hastily typed and meant for that other entry two years ago, and repurpose it here. “This isn’t sayonara, Japan. Just mata ne.”

Cause I ain’t done with you, girl. Not with your beautiful, dizzying language of conjugated adjectives and adverbs. Not with your unrivaled and strange obsession with all things adorable and cute. Not with your themed onsen. Not with any of it. Not by a long shot.

Mata ne. Hopefully sooner than later.