Tokyo is exactly what I wanted it to be. The people. The lights. The new. The old. The shopping. The food. The transportation. The fashion. The bars. Everything
As most of you know, I grew up in the rural part of the middle of somewhere. Not exactly nowhere, but nowhere enough that no towers, skyscrapers or sky trees inhibit the view of the horizon. I love watching the sun rise in the east and set in the west. I love pastures full of cows and fields full of corn. Basically, I love empty. I love nothing.
However, something about living in Japan draws me to cities. The feeling of exiting a station and being instantly surrounded by bustling energy is indescribable. Perhaps, if I had to, I would describe it as a feeling of intention, purpose and belonging. Places where being unique is actually more than acceptable, it’s borderline trendy. I have felt this lively spirit in many of Japan’s cities—Hiroshima, Osaka, Fukuoka and Sapporo. But, Tokyo set a new standard. A standard which I doubt, can be replicated by any city in the world.
Although I had already technically been to Tokyo for JET orientation, I had not ventured more than 100 yards or so from the orientation venue. Eight months after this initial Tokyo touchdown, I have successfully adjusted to culture shock, I no longer question my sanity for moving here, and I have adjusted to a new environment and lifestyle. Therefore, taking on Tokyo sans orientation seminars and meetings was actually downright amazing.
Basically, my friend and I did all of the “Tokyo things,” we couldn’t do the first time we were there. First, we visited Kamakura, a coastal town about an hour from Tokyo. My friend’s student’s son (‘s friend’s sister’s boyfriend… kidding) actually lives there. So, he showed us around Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine, the Great Buddha, Hasedera temple and several other nooks and crannies.
We also visited Sensoji Temple and the Sky Tree in Asakusa, took “purikura,” or photo booth pictures in the technological circus of Akihabara, meandered in Harajuku, shopped and ate in Shibuya, drank and danced in Roppongi and to top it all off missed the last bullet train home from Tokyo Station.
Yup, if you’ve read this far, you’ve read correctly. We had such an amazing trip that we didn’t want to leave and almost didn’t. Somehow in between sensory overload, my inability to read a timetable and my complete apathy for time itself, we managed to miss the last (four hour) train to Fukuyama. But, we did manage to catch a train that took us to Okayama, the prefecture next to Hiroshima. Upon arriving, one of the most thoughtful and amazing friends in the entire world saved the day by making the long drive to Okayama to save us (she is extraordinary). Therefore, we managed to avoid a $200 taxi ride, sleep for two hours, then be bright city girls at work the following morning. Tokyo… you did us proud.