Ever since I was a kid, I had an obsession with Japanese culture. I mean, how could I not? I grew up in an arcade, surrounded by Japanese-made video games and obsessed over their comics. I learned how to draw as a kid by meticulously studying and tracing their art. I gleefully watched all the coolest cartoons that wouldn't even be dared produced Stateside. So of course it would be one of the top places on my list to visit. And thankfully, last year, my friend (who had wanted to go because of Hanami - "cherry blossom viewing" as well as indulge in all things Sanrio among other things) motivated me to buy a ticket. And then on April 3rd, 2017, we embarked on our flight to Japan.
Tokyo was our home for the ten days we were there. We had decided we didn't want to rush around Japan only to visit (and not fully experience) different places when we could take our sweet, valuable time and soak in what the capital had to offer. So, we set up camp in our AirBnB and set out upon the city.
It's kind of difficult to describe what this trip meant to me. I can't really articulate how beautiful our adventure was. The people were extremely kind, the city was immaculately clean, the culture was rich with history and the food was...fishy. It was like everybody/thing in Tokyo moved in simpatico; the trains, the people, the fashion, the food, the bars, the nightlife, the buildings. Everything.
I couldn't help but keep a romantic mood about me throughout the trip. If you thought Times Square was radiant, then you've never been here. It was an exuberant neon paradise at all hours of the day/night for blocks and blocks around. And if it was too bright, you could duck away in an alley where you were met with quaint restaurants/bars that held character in its aging construction but yet had enough modernism to stay relevant. A favorite place of mine was tucked away upstairs where the owner (and I believe the only bartender), Kobayashi-san, packed his small unpretentious bar with over 10,000 Afro-centric records that were neatly organized on his shelves. There, you could grab a neat glass of whiskey, smoke your cigarette and listen to beautiful jazz through his well maintained vintage speakers at just the right decibel. Or if you wanted to see a microcosm of Tokyo life (or just life in general), all you needed to do was stand on the corner of Shibuya Crossing and just observe as almost 2500 people cross the street (every time the signal changes!). But also, if you wanted to just relax, you could grab a mat and some Sapporo and head over to almost any park to sit and watch the gorgeous sakura float in your purview. You'd sit there among a throng of people (dressed so well you felt you looked destitute) as they joyfully drank, ate and socialized all the while sharing the same blissful experience as everyone else around. These were just a few out of a million things done in our ten days there. The rest of the photos below will maybe do it a little more justice.
It was truly an unforgettable experience. It was one of those trips that you just didn't want to end. You knew that you were gonna experience some major Post Party Depression once you got back to the States. We had even began discussing possible ways of moving there. On our last day we decided to end it the way we had started it: a breakfast at Hoshino Coffee overlooking Shibuya Crossing. As we gazed upon the street and watched all the people weave into each other to become one large mass, we silently cried. We were observing life move along at its relentless pace and it was time we moved along with it.
Today has been a year since we boarded a plane to Haneda Airport and I haven't really given it its proper due. To be honest, I had wanted to make this grand presentation of the best trip I had ever taken because I wanted to give it the attention I felt it deserved. I wanted all of this to be perfect; the video, the photos, the words. I worked on the video for quite some time and had given up because I just felt the color grading was off (which it is), or the culling of the photos didn't tell the right story (still can't dwindle it down). But in all actuality, I was focusing on the wrong things the whole time. I wasn't really missing much from all the footage. I just had to look at it again and see that the story was there all along no matter how it was presented.
I miss Tokyo. Sometimes I'll even cry just thinking about it. I know I'm waxing poetic, but what can I say? It was all so subarashii.
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