Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto. Yet another wonderful adventure that I don’t know whether to gush about or hold close to my chest. I don’t know if I have the energy to do either – yes, I do find the art of mysteriousness taxing on my energy levels. Which my over exposed internet presence can probably attest to – *cough* Facebook and Twitter *cough* *unladylike splutter* I haven’t been mysterious since MSN Messenger. So why have I been tired since 2006? It’s funny you should ask that internets…
Japan is so…calm. Just the energy of the place. So still. And while stillness seems impossible in a country so peppered with microcosms of subculture, both traditional and overwhelmingly bizarre, I think part of the stillness I observed was more about an equilibrium of all these things. There is such potential for chaos here, at Shibuya crossing for example, or in downtown Osaka, but such potential is never reached. Voices are never raised, horns are never honked, people rarely stray beyond the left of the sidewalk disrupting the flow of things, no judging stares are cast, and nobody, and I mean nobody betrays the law of the little green and red men. (With exception for a local vagrant named Shota. Hey buddy.) And if you’re thinking; ‘Oh how obedient.’ then I challenge you to jaywalk at Shibuya crossing. That’ll learn ya. Because I see grace. I see a consideration for others, and that even though you’re in a hurry, who’s to say your hurry is more pressing than an-others hurry. Everyone still embraces their individuality fiercely. With white knuckled self-worth. Something I was in such awe of. But this fierce individuality is never at the expense of others. My individuality is not the sacrificial lamb to your individuality. There’s plenty of grassy knoll for all us lambs to frolic.
A receipt fell from my pocket while I was waiting at a crossing, and I felt an immediate sense of alarm – not for fear of judgement, but more of a; *gasp* ‘How awful of me!’ It’s not that this isn’t a sentiment that I wouldn’t have already felt anywhere else, but I was so absolute in this sentiment, like never before, and after only a week in Japan. I welcomed that absoluteness really. I mean I may very well get over it just as quickly – as I got under it? – but I like the pure thought behind it. Like talking in hushed tones on public transport, and not eating strong smelling or loud foods. Corn chips for example. There are no written rules to these things, just pure consideration for others. In two weeks I never saw an agitated Japanese person, because no-one seems to be giving anyone else a reason to be agitated. (Edit; I remember a friend pointed out two men arguing in front of a restaurant one night, but I had no idea what he was pointing at. It all looked kinda chill to me.)
So here would be a good time to put in a disclaimer, in that I was only here for two weeks, as a tourist who barely walks the surfaces of life here, and these are merely my own observations. Like anything exterior of myself, I don’t really know a god damn thing, and I’m doubtful I’m even faintly clued up on the versa of that vice. All I can tell you is what I took from my experience, and they were all good things. While there are particular people and places I’ll miss, I think what I’ll miss the most is the sincerity of the people.
I feel I should say a little something about what I actually did in Japan. But let’s inject a point of mysteriousness into my usual internet babble for once aye? It was good friends, good food and good sake that made this trip. That and jet-boating around an icy lake in the shadow of Mount Fuji with a drunken gold-toothed local fellow. But in all fairness, that also involved good friends, good food, and well, probably good sake too.
As I write this, I’m eight hours into a nine hour bus ride back to Tokyo – thus marks my last night in Japan. My feet are strangely swollen, and all I can smell is the plastic bag of rubbish in front of me, which smells of sun baked banana peel and an excessive amount of coffee cups – I don’t dislike it. After dropping our bags off at a capsule hotel in Shinjuku, we’ll be sharing our last meal and hopefully some great sake with our new friend Shota. I’m not overwhelmed with any kind of emotion right now. It’s strange actually. I just feel…still. Happy. Maybe it’s because I’ve been sitting in the sun reading a good book* all day, watching the Japanese countryside whip by, and drinking more coffee than my irregular heartbeat can really deal with. All good things.
*Read Eat, Pray, Love, watched A Map for Saturday and started on some Jack Kerouac. How painfully literal of me.