Time in Tokyo has passed in a blur of neon filled nights and skyscraper days.
My off days are filled with trying to soak up everything Tokyo and its surrounding areas have to offer; snow capped mountains and crammed sushi bars, evenings at izakayas and themed restaurants that turn into nights and early mornings belting out karaoke classics, wandering the streets of suburban Tokyo and stumbling across the best pastry outside of Paris. It is all a blur. But a good blur.
When I first arrived I read an article about dating in Tokyo, it said that it was easy, if you didn’t mind dating married men. I was shocked but I suppose not that surprised, I am sure it’s similar everywhere you go. Without speaking the language and having my only social circle as the 12 Europeans I came here with, finding a date is not the easiest of things to do. However, I felt that I was beginning to miss a good date. Those butterflies that you get when you’re on your way to meet them. The worry about whether you’ll find some common ground amidst the nervous initial conversation, the smiles that catch you on those pregnant silences. But I am a lucky girl and I soon stumbled across a lovely expat who took me to an izakaya on our first date and insisted I eat chicken hearts and drink a glass of a litre of beer.
Despite speaking the same language our communication rivaled one of mismatching cultures and every time we meet it takes us about an hour to actually find each other. “Stay in the station when you get to Omaichi.”
“Where are you?”
“In the station.”
“I’m on the platform.”
“I’m by the exit.”
“Meet me in Shinjuku station. Follow the exits to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building.”
“Where are you? I’m in the station.”
“I’m in the Tokyo Metropolitan building. Come find me, I’m at the North Observatory.’
‘Hurry, I want us to catch the sunset.”
“I’m already up at the top watching it.”
“I’m waiting for you downstairs!!”
Much like one of those cringe-worthy comedy shows where only the audience can see the mix up and wait with baited breath to see which poor soul realizes the mistake first. But it was cute.
Whisked up to the 45th floor on a weekday where the tourists were few and far between we watched the sun set over a smoggy Tokyo. I have been informed (forcibly) many times but it is not pollution! Tokyo has no pollution!! But whatever it is, it casts an eerie layer over the city that never sleeps. We whipped out a compass and squinted in the direction of Fuji. I love that wherever I am in Tokyo we always try to get a glimpse of Fuji. It’s the kind of excitement of being able to see the London Eye peeping out behind the buildings when in London… except more relaxing. It reminds you that there is a calm life outside of this crazy city.
After the sun had set and Tokyo started to light up we sat at the bar and drank overpriced cocktails for hours, talking about life and love and everything in between. I love my life here but it was refreshing to speak to someone other than the people I live/work/breathe with everyday.
“Sometimes I look out at the night sky in Tokyo, I see the moon, and I wonder to myself if my friends and family are looking up at that same sky on the other side of the world, and I wonder if they are thinking of me and my little life here in Tokyo.” I laughed at the deepness of his remark but now I think back, I do the same. Sometimes before I make my way from the quiet haven of my tiny apartment I sneak out onto my balcony that looks out over the train tracks and I look up at the mighty night sky as the cold nips at my face and I think of all the people I miss in my life and my past, and all the wonderful people that lay in front of me. It's a cathartic exercise that grounds me and reminds me where I have come from and where I've yet to go.