From Chu-hi to Yorkshire Tea: Thoughts on Re-Entering Britain

So in almost a week’s time I shall temporarily leave Japan, the land of chu-hi and AKB48, for Britain, the land of Yorkshire Tea and drizzle. I have mentioned my concerns about returning to Britain before here.  I am still apprehensive, but now I am still really looking forward to it.  As I think about returning, if only for a month, I thought I would make some predictions about what I expect to experience on returning to the UK after almost eighteen months of being in Japan.

I must confess that I am still concerned about Britain disappointing me, for want of a better word.  As I detailed here and here, when I left Britain in late August 2012, I felt it had become an unkind place.  My concern is that I am so nervous about it even now (after all I was beaten up in broad daylight after being told I was a ‘f**king srounger’) that I shall be simply unfair on Britain as a country.  Maybe it is not that really that bad, but after being away for so long, I shall look at every small problem, every minor social infringement with undue emphasis.  And yet, at the same time, part of me thinks that even if I am unfair, that I am entitled to do be so, not just in here in Japan, but in every country, people, whether or not they have a disability, should be able to get around without fear of violence.

My other concerns are what you might call ‘re-entry issues’.  Britain is a very different place from Japan; the natives do things differently there. When I first arrive, I expect to be saying ‘sumimasen!’ instead of ‘sorry!’ when I bump into people on the bus or street, or forget that on said bus, one must make one’s way to leave before the bus stops, as buses in Britain never wait for you, unlike in Japan.  Maybe I will bow instead of say thank you if someone helps me in the street with shopping or the like, which did, despite what I said above, happened reasonably often last time I was there.  Maybe I shall also wonder why most convenience stores are open for business for almost twenty-four hours, as opposed to around twelve to fifteen (In Japan, apparently things can be too convenient!), but that no one greets you with ‘irrashaimase!’ or ‘Come on in!’, when you enter that convenience store.

I certainly expect a sense of the uncanny, of the world being strangely familiar as well as familiar but strange, maybe a sense of disconnection, of not being quite there. However, it would be mistake to think that such a feeling would be bad, a negative facet of being back in Britain.  As a disabled person, I have always felt an outsider, even in Britain, but yet I am still bemused that people often view the outsider perspective as not just being a lonely place (a party is far more enjoyable from within after all), but also somehow deficient, as if the view from that lens reveals no good exposure, as after all (and forgive the trumpet blowing), but it produced this.

I shall certainly report on this blog what I actually experience, as in one week’s time, I won’t need to wonder, I shall be in Britain.  And it certainly should fun and interesting.  And Japan, I’ll bring you back some Yorkshire Tea and English Mustard, you keep the chu-hi on ice.


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