I can’t believe my time in Japan is already over. 6 months seems to be a very long time far away from home, and that’s true. But when you get used to the new environment and you are fully settled down, time is just passing by. Nevertheless, I was just counting days the last month until I could finally pack my bags and go home. It was just time too leave. Right now, I am already at home in Germany. But not for a long time. A new chapter is going to start in 3 days. If I am excited? Yeah, quite a bit. Scared? Definitely. It’s always scary to start a new journey, when you don’t know how it will turn out to be. But well. This post is not about all that. To conclude my Japan diary, I have to tell you what happened during my last week in Kyoto. What I can tell you right away. I couldn’t have had a better farewell!
I don’t even know where to start. It happened quite a lot. During my days off, I didn’t do much. I started packing, cleaning and souvenir shopping. I actually planned to go to Fuji for two days, but because of a Taifun, I cancelled my plans. Many trains got cancelled, it was super windy and rainy. Not the best weather to visit Fuji-san.
On the 16thof August, one of the most famous and important festival, called Daimonji festival, was held in Kyoto. I don’t know if I already mentioned it, but Kyoto is a very spiritual and traditional town in Japan. The city is surrounded by mountains and hills. That’s why the weather is always so humid here, especially in summer. But the hidden location has also it’s positive sides. It is not a secret that Japan is often affected by natural disasters, like earthquakes, taifun and so on. Kyoto is one of those cities, that hasn’t experienced big damages in the past. Everyone says that Kyoto is protected by the many temples, as well as the mountains.
Kyoto celebrates the tradition by lighting large bonfires in symbolic kanji characters on the hills surrounding the city. Japan welcomes the spirits of ancestors back to the world of the living and mark their departure. It’s a very spiritual festival, but extremely important for Japanese.
I have never seen so many people, including tourists, sitting on the river and waiting for the fire up on the hill. I went there with Faustine, Alessia, Shiho and Saito. It was really cool and chilled evening!
Then, two days after Daimonji festival we had our farewell party. First, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. We went again to the same izakaya and I didn’t even know who will come. But that evening turned out to be the best evening I had in Japan. It was so much fun. OMG! Just everyone came. All the interns of Locanda, including the new ones who just started this month. All Part timers came, our managers, as well as some interns from the Lobby Lounge and Guest Service. It was just too funny. Afterwards we went to a Photo Booth to do some of the famous Japanese pictures together. It was hilarious and such a nice memory. Afterwards we headed to Karaoke. Not everyone came to join, because it was already quite late. But we were still a few. We didn’t really care anymore that we had to work the next day and needed to wake up at 5am. But it was worth it and the last time we were all together in Japan. So sad! Especially this last month we got all so close and understood each other so well. But it’s always like that. It all comes to an end when you have the best time.
The next day we had the farewell party from the hotel. All interns who started at the same time as I did come together, as well as the General Manager, our Managers and the HR team. It was really emotional. We watched a video of what happened those 6 months, how everything started with the Zen Ceremony and how all comes to an end. I just realized that this amazing experience really is over. So emotional and so sad. We all had to say some words to explain how we felt and what we think of this internship. I really appreciate that I had the opportunity to work in such an amazing hotel with the best team ever. That feeling, that it will never be the same and that you will probably never see most of the people again is painful. But that’s part of the hospitality world. You meet people every day, but you have to say goodbye to them as well. Everyone is spread out somewhere else in the world, but you are friends for life no matter what.
After work there was the family party of The Ritz Carlton Kyoto, where families of employees came, but of course staff members as well. We actually just came to get food from the amazing buffet. Haha! But at the end it turned out to be a really nice event, not only because of the food. Different departments performed in front of the guests and the GM obviously held a speech. It was just super fun to be with everyone together.
The next day I was off and just spend the whole day in bed. Around 3pm Faustine texted me that I should come to the hotel for another farewell. It was the last day of Tony and Alessia. Therefore, I came to the hotel and got surprised by the La Locanda team with cute little presents and Pierre Hérmes sweets. So kawaaaiiii! I will miss them a lot. We all got a Samurai T-Shirt, letters and so on. It was so sweet.
In the evening, I met up with Faustine to experience a traditional Geisha show. A part timer recommended it so me and I really wanted to go before leaving Japan. It was super interesting and entertaining to see the different performances. It started all with a tea ceremony, a flower ceremony, Japanese harp music, Gagaku Court Music, Kyogen Theater show, Kyo-mai Dance and a Bunraku Pupper Theatre show. We really enjoyed most of the shows. It was sometimes a little weird and funny, but interesting to look at.
Afterwards we met up with Saito, Mayo, Jicky, Tony, Alessia, Shiho and Christine. We went together eating Sushi and afterwards in a Pub. So many farewell parties! But it was again super cool and fun. The last day I saw Tony, Christine and Alessia. So sad!
I was off the 21stand just chilles, packed, cleaned and went to Toji market to buy some more souvenirs. On the 22ndI worked as usual. It was Faustines last day. So weird to work when everyone already left or is about to leave. On the 23rdit was my last day. I worked a last time at A station together with Saito. It was a weird feeling to say goodbye to everyone, but because of all the farewell parties we had before, I was in my head already gone. I wrote some letters for friends and managers, gave my uniform as well as name tag and staff member card back and left the hotel now for real.
On that last night in Kyoto, I had something special planned though. Because I made so many wow stories, I “won” a free kaiseki meal for 2 persons at the Japanese restaurant Mizuki. I always wanted to experience a kaiseki dinner in Japan, but the price is just extremely expensive, especially at dinner time. Kaiseki is the haut cuisine in Japan and consist of different small course representing seasonal Japanese products in the purest form. I met with Nadine around 7pm in front of the hotel. We had no expectations at all. But the moment we entered the restaurant, we were amazed. OMG! It felt so unreal sitting in that amazing restaurant. You saw the waterfall through the window. Such an amazing atmosphere! But the evening got better and better. Every course we got was so so soooo delicious. The best food and presentation I had in my life! I don’t exaggerate at all! It was Japanese cuisine as you would imagine. You taste the quality of the products so much. And the presentation! The moment those ice sculptures came to our table, we almost cried. Wow! It was amazingly presented and high-quality sashimi. I’ve never tasted something like that before. I can’t stop raving. Every course was a surprised and we didn’t even know how many courses we will get. We just hoped with every course it’s not the end. At the end we got 8 courses, plus a green tea at the end. Furthermore, we got surprised by a self-made fan with a picture of ours on it. It was the happiest evening I could have imagined. WOW! The chef is just so creative and tries to make every dinner experience special. Such a nice souvenir and memory. Even the smell of it will remind me of the Ritz Carlton Kyoto! The whole evening was perfect. Kaizuki was working and serving us as well. It couldn’t have been better. But I think I mentioned that before.
The next day I packed and cleaned everything together and went for a last time shopping sp,e souvenirs. At 3pm the apartment owner came to check my room. Everything was okay. Thanks god! And then it was time for me to leave. I made my way with all the luggage to find a taxi, which wasn’t that easy. I felt so bad for all the taxi drivers who need to carry my luggage into the car. Soooo heavy. With the taxi I went to Kyoto station, where I took the bus to Itami Airport and from there with another taxi to a hostel nearby. Oh god. You should have seen this taxi driver. It was a horror story. The taxi driver was almost 100 years, half blind and deaf as well. I searched the address in Japanese, but he didn’t know where it is. Then he started looking through his huuuge atlas (yes he didn’t have a navi). I was dying at the back, trying to explain him where I wanted to go. Oh man! But at the end I kind of made it. The hostel wasn’t like something I’ve seen before. The owner was half drunk, but super friendly. I went to get some dinner and tried to sleep the night before my flight.
Oh. I think I didn’t tell you the story, that I almost went to the wrong airport. I thought I would fly from Kansai Airport Osaka, because that’s the only international airport in Osaka. I booked already my hotel there and planned to meet up with another intern flying on the same day. But then, my mum wrote me that she is surprised that my flight is from Itami Airport. Oh god. You had no idea how shocked I was. I imagined me, on the wrong airport, missing my flight back home with my visa expired, stuck in Japan! I cancelled the hotel, booked another one close to Itami Airport and was just so scared to miss my flight in some way. Thanks god my mum told me. But anyway!
The owner drove me to the airport around 5:45am. I was standing in a huge queue to check in my luggage and was so scared that I have to pay extra for my overweight. But it was all fine! I changed the Japanese yen into Euro, gave my Wifi box to the post and almost ran to my gate. When I enteres the plain I was overwhelmed. I got a business class seat right at the window! OMG! Yay! I felt so rich. Hallelujah! I wished it would have been the long-distance flight to Zurich, instead of the 1-hour flight to Tokyo. But it was still nice to experience. Furthermore, I saw mount Fuji from the plain! What a coincidence!
In Tokyo I had 5 minutes time to change plain. Yes! 5 minutes. And then I needed to go to another security check and the passport control. What the hell? Of course, I had to give back my residence card as well. I was just running to my gate. And guess who I saw at the airport. Faustine! So funny! She took her plane to Brussel. I was so happy that I cached my plain. Now, nothing could go wrong. Zurich, here I come. The flight was looooong. 12,5 hours. But well! That’s when I realized again how far away Japan from Europe is. But I am sure I will be back someday. I arrived at the 25tharound 3pm in Zurich. My family picked me up at the airport and we drove straight back home. Wow! It’s so weird to be back. But nothing has changed. Therefore, it didn’t even feel like I wasn’t here for half a year. I just know it is going to be strange to live here again. Different people, different food, different weather, different everything! But hey! Life would be boring, if I would stay the whole time on the same place! Let’s see where I will be next year.