Yep. It has finally happened! I am on the way to Japan. A trip I've talked about for so long – months, YEARS even - that almost every detail felt strangely hypothetical. My flight ticket and insurance were booked, ICC's wonderful Matt S had organised an internship for me with Wish!, a great Japanese company whose director is also a fan of Noh Theatre. I'd been invited for drinks, dinners, parties are being thrown in my honour. But it STILL felt completely unreal. Well, it did, until I tried to actually pack my suitcase. Here is about half of the ton of stuff that ended up going in...
Then, I had to fit in the really heavy stuff: books, books and more books. I pack books and music like some other people pack pairs of shoes; I am physically incapable of going anywhere without them! I gave myself a pretty free rein. Which is why my bag was quite seriously overwight this morning when I checked in at Heathrow. And also why Sam and I are both now just a little bit shorter in height, but longer-armed, from lugging the stuff from home to the Heathrow Express...
In total my luggage weighed 45kg. Here is a more detailed estimate of the proportion of Books to 'other stuff'' in my luggage right now:
My beautiful edition of the Tale of Genji was 2 kg all on its own...
My Penguins: a book about Oriental music, The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon and Japanese Noh Dramas, the latter edited by the same guy, Royall Tyler, who translated my Genji. Another two kilos.
I've had not a MOMENT to read fiction for about a month now, and very much looking forward to settling down wth these books if I ever have any free time.
My Japanese dictionary, textbooks and practice sentences took up about another five kilos. I wonder if it's the same for everyone at the beginning of learning a language – lurching between feeling pretty good about things ('I know a new grammatical structure, hurrah!'), and total despair at lack of ability to actually USE the language even as far as answering a simple question ('I said it fine in my head, I did!'). At the moment I'm bricking it: on the plane to Tokyo after 2 hours sleep and not much more each night for the past two weeks', I can't remember a single word.
Childrens' picture books to use as visual aids for my Wish! Internship – lots of board books, hadback picture books and comics. The only one I actually NEEDED to bring was Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but in a fit of thoroughness I brought along about another 10. Another 3 or 4 kilos.
Sheet music: another one or two kilos.
So, a third of the weight of my luggage is books. But I STILL forgot the two most important: phrase book and Tokyo guidebook. Doh!