Tokyo: Days 000-004

by - February 28, 2016

These were my first days in Japan. Or, to be more exact, my amazing race days.

Long story short, I signed up 2 years of my life here, without any language skills and without having visited the country ever. I have my own super-pretentious, philosophical reason, but really, maybe I was just temporarily mad. Or having a quarter-life crisis. Or looking for more social media likes. Or maybe I got it confused with a vacation.

As a Google and research devotee, I thought all those countless hours reading and learning about all things Japan have prepared me as well as I could. I also started memorising hiragana and katakana letters. But you really didn’t know until it hit you.

Japan has been nuts!!!! My small apartment is small! I have to do what at the municipal office what? I spent a lot of time being so confused about everything! Why people no speak Engrish? Phone bills are so costly! Why are there convoluted procedures for everything? Dammit I’m signing contracts in Japanese!

My new telco operator gave me a bowl of instant noodles. Er... why, Japan?
I spent hours gawking at supermarket aisles looking for salt, pepper, soy, etc… That oil bottle was not oil at all, it’s mirin.

Why am I doing this, again?? I can’t write my own name in katakana! How do I buy a salmon bowl from this ticket machine, somebody HALP! Sumimasen! Wah! Wah! And I haven’t even started work.

Maybe instead of running around to the municipal ward office, mobile phone shop, bank, the post office, real estate agent, apartment self-inspections (more about this later), and shopping for my life supplies, I should have been all touristy, visited temples, parks, hunted for good food, and took it easy. So that my sakura-tinted glasses don’t fall off straightaway.

But, but. I am in an amazing country of courteous, gentle people. Neon signs and cute mascot characters and cute music are absolutely everywhere.

I’ve learnt a lot in the span of a few short days. I had no time to be lonely as everyday has been full of little missions and tasks and little adventures.

There have been little wins and “yeah I did it, I’m awesome!” moments. Food in random places have been decent at worst and unexpectedly amazing at best. I had the chance to reconnect with a couple old friends and made new ones.

My hectic four days were interspersed with quiet beats and moments. Walking through meandering quiet unnamed streets, breathing in the crisp cold air, taking turns courteously with bikes, cars, trucks, even trains.

Random flower shops and potted plants could be spotted easily.

I sat in front of Ueno park while killing time before my appointment and spotted an early sakura tree. It was such a massive contrast compared to my Sydney life, my comfort zone.

In the hectic, there was calm. I still remembered hearing God clearly promise me that I'd be fine. And took care of me He did.

At the risk of sounding extremely cliche, a sense of wonder and a sense of gratitude are key. I hope I can hold on to that, always.

More stories to come… It wouldn’t all fit in one post!

Places featured in this post

  • Shinjuku
  • Shibuya
  • Ueno Park
  • Shimokitazawa
  • Meidaimae

Eats featured in this post

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