As the fall winds cleared the summer haze, Gunma was treated with some amazing sunsets. All through October, November and December I have been treated to spectacular vistas on my drive home after work.
There is no doubt that the end of 2010 has hit me hard. Japan is a wonderful country, but the heart of the foreigner experience remains that of a stranger in a strange land. Couple that with working and living in a small farming town, and the sense of isolation can be near overwhelming at times.
Which isn't to say all is gloom and doom. As I meet more and more people from across the prefecture, I have made ever more lasting friendships. As well, the teachers and students are more often looking at me as a teacher and colleague than as "that weird foreign dude". At one of the ubiquitous end of the year parties (忘年会 bounenkai, literally "forget the year party") one of my principals told me that he though I was a good ALT, and that the students loved me, which is always nice to hear.
As always the new year will bring all new challenges, experiences, and more. On the horizon are hints that life may be getting better, so like everybody else I'll play my hand and see how many chips I end up with.
And in the meantime, I'll take more photos, travel more places, and blog about it all, hopefully in a more timely manner than of late.
Here's hoping for a healthy, wealthy, and wonderful 2011 for all involved!