Friday, April 13, 2012

ah, japan

I actively try to avoid thinking about Japan. Because if I do let my mind wander there, I inevitably end up taking a seat on the metro and hopping off at my station (Hanzoman, a station nestled right under McDonald's). And then I'm walking the tiny street to my tiny apartment. But first, I'm darting in to the 7-11 and grabbing a Swiss Roll (pastry) and a Pocari Sweat (a soda most similar to Fresca, although quite different really). And then I nod to the Japanese man on the corner, who is always there, shouting out - politely - the evening's dinner special. He always nods back, and I smile, and we have our daily wordless conversation, silently acknowledging our lack of common words and our starkly different eyes. And then I'm turning my key, waiting for the magnetic click of the big heavy door to my apartment building. And then there's the smell - like fish and humidity - that hangs heavy in the hall, just before the door. And then I'm in my apartment, all 300 square feet, sliding my feet into my house slippers, because that's what you do in Japan.

And before you know it, I'm trunky.

The other day, Jess asked, "So if I told you I had a job opportunity in Japan, what would you say?" Me: "I'd start packing my bags. DO YOU?!"

He most definitely doesn't (and he isn't looking), but still. I know that my time in Japan was really unique, that any visit back would be entirely different, colored by different experiences and the different phase we're in. But of all the places I've lived or visited, Tokyo is really the only place I've ever felt at home. Is that funny? I couldn't speak a lick of the language - beyond simple words like, "yes" or "thank you" - but it's as though my soul is actually Japanese. My face might be American, but inside, I yearn for tiny, crowded streets and curry that comes out of a vending machine. I ache for the smell of incense that cuts through the air, a scent so unique, it cannot be mistaken or ignored. I miss the quiet respect that settled about the country like a blanket. I think a part of me will always be aching to go back.

Jess and I are contemplating a visit to Tokyo this summer. Sans children (because no child really wants to be on a plane that long and then adjust to that time change). I think it might be the only place in the world that I'd go willingly and leave my children. Am I crazy? Because the more I think about it, the more I think that Swiss Roll and that Pocari Sweat sound really good. And I bet that man on the corner would still nod.

PHOTO: This is my favorite picture of our summer in Japan. I feel like it just captures everything so perfectly. I believe this place is called Akasaka? This vendor-lined street leads to a large Buddhist temple.


eclaires said...

I want to go.

Teresa said...

You and me sista. We are having Tokyo withdrawals ever since we moved back to the States in Dec. My kids are still wanting to move back! "I want to go back to Japan," says Sissy, on a daily basis! It is sad though. Japan is a different place after the earthquake and Fukushima. BTW, your kids (I can't believe you have two) are so dang cute! So adorable! I enjoy your're amazing!


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