I'm LOVING Tokyo and I want to share my observations and favorites, join me!
Well, my dream has finally come true. I think I've wanted to go to Tokyo since I was a teenager.We’ve been here for a week now and I'm in awe of Tokyo and its people. I've already found 5 Things I Love About Tokyo and I want to share. My list of places that I’d like to go to has always been quite long, but Tokyo was always in my Top 5.
Upon arrival, we had roughly 1 day off to catch up on sleep and then the next day we were at the theater pretty much all day for the next 5 days. Every day I found myself sleepy and with the dreaded brain fog that I already fight at home because I have Fibromyalgia, but it was multiplied 10-fold here and the jet lag slapped me in the face like I had owed it money. For this reason, I was firstly not able to update this blog like I would have like, and secondly, I mostly only spent time in Shibuya where the theater is located. I had planned to do so much by now, but we still have 2 weeks that I plan to make the most of.
So Japan definitely lived up to its reputation. I’ve found the people to be some of the friendliest I have ever encountered. Outside of Brazil, I’ve never been made to feel so welcome. Of course, there is a language barrier. However, I’d studied Japanese for the last 9 months and am very comfortable with greetings, shopping and order food and drinks.
The musicians that we work with speak very little English, but they all understand enough necessary for us to work together quite nicely. We did need interpreter the first day so that our musical director could communicate any “notes” and specifics to them. After that, we were on our own, but again, its been no problem. We managed to have a night out with the local band complete with Korean BBQ and my new best friend, Nomi-hodai, which means all-you-can-drink. Of course with the freedom comes the ability to get drunk as a skunk and make an ass of yourself. So I opt to enjoy my drinks but stop short of the public drunkenness which seems to be perfectly acceptable here.
I’ve seen salary-men in business suits fall down, stumbling drunk. Which was frankly a surprise as I heard that Japanese people are so reserved. They are of course before they drink, and then they get what we lovingly call “white girl drunk”. No offense of course to my caucasian sisters, but I know you all know what I mean. Wooooooo. Japanese man + drinks = Woo-Girl.
The 5 Things I Love So Far
1. The cleanliness : I haven’t seen any trash on the street or train stations. In fact, trash cans are hard to find in general. I initially thought that this was because they want to prevent litter, but I was informed by a tour guide that this is a form of protest because years ago a religious cult, called Aum Shrinrikyo murdered a dozen people with Sarin gas underground in the subway. The fear of unknown objects in the train stations led to the ban. In addition to the lack of trashcans, Japanese people are very tidy, so I find myself being more aware of leaving trash around and I’m trying to be more conscious of keeping things clean. I’ve never been one to litter, but if I drop even a candy wrapper here, I pick it up immediately.
2. Lawd, The Food! : I cannot even begin to describe how good EVERYTHING that I’ve eaten here has been. Even things they consider fast food, like gyudon (thinly sliced beef over rice) and ramen. The food is prepared with so much more can that at home. The fish is fresh and everything is very flavorful. No half-ass preparation with this food. Japanese people put their full ass into everything they do, and I'd glad to reap the benefits. My taste-buds at every meal are like “heyyyyyyyyy, party over here”.
3. Friendliness : Everyone that I’ve met has been friendly on a level that i takes months to get to with people back home. They make you feel like you’ve know them for years. People say they aren’t big on hugging and I find that to be mostly true with the women. The men, however, seem to enjoy hugging a foreign woman. I do acknowledge that this may be my boobs which are at least 3-4 times the size of what they are used to. They definitely lean-in. I don’t mind, though. I’m big on hugs. I got a lot of love to give.
4. Encouraging me to speak Japanese : As I mentioned earlier, I did study Japanese for 9 months. I am able to read both hiragana and katakana pretty well. Not many kanji, though, as it takes 2,000 or so to be fluent and I know roughly 60. Ain’t nobody got time for that. That's what google translate is for. When I speak any Japanese, I'm met with an “Ohhhhhhhh”, immediately followed by “you’re Japanese very good”. Unlike some places where they will immediately switch to English because they don’t want you murdering their language, (and you know who you are), they have been teaching me a lot and smile when I use it on them later. It really pays to learn a bit of the language where you’re going.
5. The prompt trains : I live in NYC when I'm not on the road and as you may know, the NYC subway runs when it feels like it. The subway operators yell at you indecipherable from a crackling loudspeaker and it's mostly things like “let the people off the train” as if they are mad at all of us. You never know if you’re going to wait 2 minutes of 15. Here, the trains run on a tight schedule, so much so that if you work here and are late to work because of a train delay, they will write a note for you t give your boss. What??? I have yet to wait more than 3-4 minutes from a train, including late night. The only downside is that trains stop running at midnight. Which is fine with me because I'm getting old and me staying out that late is now a rarity. Stop laughing. I know, I know.
This is the beginning of my second week and I’ll have a lot more to share. I am excited for the rest of my time here and I know that I will not want to leave. My sister said to me “make sure you come back because I can just hear you now ‘i feel like I belong here, I want to live here’”. My family knows me well, as I already feel that way. I’ll come back, but with much reservation.