I lived in lovely Kawagoe, Saitama, for the term of my study abroad. I was scheduled to leave Kawagoe the day after Christmas, and my school term had ended on the 21st so that I could spend it with my family. I have never been one to celebrate the mainstream holidays. In the train station, on the day before Christmas eve, I realized I would soon taste the Christmas candies of home, which I wasn’t looking forward to very much anyway. Because this feeling of homecoming meant that I would have to say goodbye to my host parents, new friends, and the country that had been my home for the past four months. Then, as I got off the train and up past the ticket kiosk, I saw the Saitama mascot, the happiest sweet potato around, wearing his Kawagoe samurai time tower on his head. As my extra special Christmas gift to myself, I hugged the personification of the place I had grown to love.
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