I still owe many emails about Japan and what I am doing here exactly. I’m getting there. I promise. I have short hours to respond to emails, attempt running a business from afar, and write blogs, no matter how much I want to right.
At night, when I can write, I don’t because it is so cold. Bone chilling cold that all I can do is dive under my covers and get warm. Which means I end up falling asleep early. I am by no means giving up excuses for not writing, instead I am explaining why even though I have a million thoughts in my head to share with you, I just haven’t written them down.
However, things are changing. Next Friday, November 30th, I’ll be leaving Echizen, Japan and paper making for now, to head South to Osaka and Kyoto, again, before heading back to Tokyo for the last 20-something-odd-days until my flight back to the States (to LA specifically) on January 7, 2013.
But that has nothing to do with my blog post for today. Instead, as I get ready to put together a huge box of things I brought with me that I am sending home before I get there, with a few additional pieces, I bought along the way of traveling around Japan, I decided to devote a whole post to my favorite place, the post office.
The first time I visited the post office here in Japan, I was a bit hesitant. I mean, I speak NO Japanese! Okay, that’s a lie, I speak some Japanese. I speak like a handful of words and I can not say that I am studying paper making in Echizen to those who ask. At least I think I can. A student asked me the other day and I gave her my response and she seemed pleased with my answer, so, I think I’m saying it right.
Anyhow, back to the point. The first time I went to the post office, I had one letter and a handful of postcards. I was in Tokyo and it was my first leg of my Japan trip. It wasn’t bad. And fortunately for me the woman who helped me could speak a bit of English. With her help, I was able to buy five more postcard stamps and walked out pleased.
When I arrived in Echizen, the Post Office was the first place I looked for, with the cafe that offers me internet for the small fee of a cappuccino or cafe au lait, and maybe a piece of cake, the second place. Another fortunate, the post office is on my way down hill from the house I am staying at to the Museum. It is also within five-minute walking distance from the Museum, which means I’ve made many quick walks or bike rides over to mail away my goodies.
I would say that I have the US Postal Service working hard from afar than I did at home, because I’m mailing more than I have mailed while at home. At least it feels this way. Last week alone, I visited the post office twice in one day and that was four days after visiting the post office in Kyoto to mail off a quick gift package that I had been debating sending, but decided to send.
While I love and fully support my USPS, I have to say that I find the post offices here in Japan, more of an enjoyable experience. The people that work there are always smiling. They offer some of the BEST customer service I’ve ever had and that includes not being able to fully understand what they ask me.
I did have a bit of a snafu with the package I mailed from Kyoto – I realized it four days later, which does me know good – but I didn’t put a customs form on the package. My hope is that customs in the US doesn’t fret and they see that the package says clearly on the front, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” and let it slide. Otherwise, I think they’ll have to open it and then tape it back and that will delay the entire process. Fingers crossed. (Please, please, please, Universe, work with me here!)
I of course did have a minor meltdown where I started crying in the post office. Why I can not handle certain situations without crying, I don’t understand. Of course, I realize that part of it is my own stupidity. I didn’t think about the customs form. I will be really sad if that package doesn’t get to it’s destination. There was a multitude of emotions behind those tears, but then the employee looked at me with a kind smile, walked over to the computer, brought back a note pad and wrote “invoice needless.” The “invoice” being the customs form.
I looked at him and he smiled and I said “Really?” and he smiled and pointed to “needless” and I said, “okay, arigatou gozimasu” and walked out. As I jumped on my bike, I said, “okay, I have faith, and believe it will get there.”
Now, of course, I was thinking the entire time, “if I had only waited until yesterday when I brought in two small boxes and the woman who always helps me asked me for customs forms for these two small boxes, then the freaking envelope would have had a customs form! But NO, Sara Stroman. No you can never be patient enough!” As my brain warred with itself, the other side that was fighting back said, “But you couldn’t have waited. The moment to mail was Friday. You did exactly what you needed to do. So just have faith.” That side clearly won out. And it hasn’t discouraged me from using the post office.
Again, I have a big box that will be mailed from Echizen by next week with my items, plus a customs form. I will also hopefully be sending out that same day some packages to donors to my Indiegogo Campaign. I can’t wait for those to go out. I won’t be mailing all of the packages out because I won’t have the time, but I can’t wait to see everything come together and to get those out the door. More importantly, I will miss these three employees who have greeted me and cared for my mail with gentle hearts and hands when I leave next Friday. They have made my extreme mailing easy and seamless in the past six weeks.
As we get closer to Thanksgiving Day in the US (cry, I’m going to miss that day!) I am thankful for both a fully functioning and efficient Japanese postal service (complete with cute stamps!) and for the United States Postal Service, who has delivered some of the many pieces of mail I’ve sent already. I know they are having a hard time, but I’m glad they are still able to deliver stuff to my loved ones while I am many, many miles away. Domo Arigatou Gozimasu!
Oh and foreigners traveling, ALWAYS remember a customs form on your packages!