Saturday, April 21, 2007

We Paid A Visit To WK London

Jonah & Hendricks

I feel some Oregon credit is due after a gal I know and love was mildly offended by my last post...For the past 2 months, I’ve been from Tokyo to Hawaii, Oregon, back to Tokyo, Barcelona, London, and now back to Barcelona. Each place is unique, with it’s own strengths and weaknesses. And I’ll say this: There’s no place like home. Hands down, Oregon is just home, and it’s so darn beautiful. This past trip I even shed a tear or 2, looking out at the Coburg Hills, driving the crappy I5 trip from Portland to Eugene.

I didn’t mean to throw the US on the chopping block. I just love Tokyo, and was pleasantly surprised at how happy I was to be back.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Back In Tokyo

It sure is nice to be back in Tokyo. Spring is looking good – the sun is out, and fragrant, blooming trees line the streets. I stepped off the plane and was immediately reminded of the easy, calm culture here; the efficiency and quality in service; the clean, well maintained, and always punctual busses and trains; the quaint neighborhoods filled with cafes and flower shops; the people walking around, well cared for, and very polite! The system seems to be working, which is pretty outstanding considering Tokyo is one of the most populated cities in the world.

I’m not sure if this will make sense to people, but the feeling I have returning from the US to Tokyo is similar to the feeling I get when returning from Mexico to the US. On many different levels, things (general organization, law enforcement, business/customer service ethic, economy, social programs, gracious & respectful public interaction) in Tokyo feel much more advanced, which kicks up the quality of life. I noticed during my trip home that things in the US seem unfortunate in a way that I never really noticed before. Obesity, street addicts, crime, understaffed & chaotic businesses, and poverty were all things that really stood out to me on this trip home.

I was sad to hear that the friendly guy who worked at my favorite convenience store on Belmont had been the victim of a violent robbery. He was recently shot in the head and paralyzed from the neck down. Standing in line at the pharmacy was a real eye opener, too. As I waited for an hour and a half (!) for Walgreens to fill my prescription, I began to take a look around at the other people waiting in line. People's clothes, which hardly fit them due to their morbid obesity, were tattered and raggedy. A pregnant woman standing in front of me was having a hard time. She was 6.5 months pregnant, having premature contractions, and couldn’t afford the medication prescribed to her by her doctor, which was intended to stop the contractions. Yikes! What’s happening to the US? When did it get to be so easy for people to spiral into such vulnerable and desperate positions? It makes me sad because I love Portland.

When I came to Tokyo, I expected a little culture shock; however, I wasn’t prepared for the intense culture shock I experienced coming back to the US after only being gone 4 months.