At long last the much-anticipated Japan blog! Even as I sit here poised on the brink of my first entry I’m struck with the strange self-involvement and almost purposelessness of this. The only thing that drives me forward is the idea that if I myself came across a blog chronicling someone’s random eclectic adventures in Tokyo, I would probably be interested enough to take a look, regardless of the author’s level of writing, specific focus, or lack thereof. So is that my somewhat disparaging ambition for this blog? Hopefully not. I’m really not used to writing in this medium, and I want to stay true to my own style, so I do hope you’ll excuse my rambling and meandering for the moment.
And here I break with a beautiful picture of my favorite place in all of Tokyo: Inokashira Park. I guess the red and gold hues here betray the oldness of this photo. But throughout all of the seasons it’s been my favorite delightful refuge. Not quite serene or grassy, but lively, colorful, alternatingly bright and shadowy, with a narrow pond running down the center, on top of which you can find corny little swan boats swimming along merrily if somewhat shamefacedly (occasionally battling one another when the pond becomes overcrowded) regardless of the time of year or weather. Now that it is finally swan-boat weather again, my all-time favorite Tokyo pastime has become sitting on the grassless grounds in front of the tiny little park cafe (which, despite their recent, somewhat useless expansion, invariably has a 40-minute long line at least, due to their focus on cute service over efficiency), with some conbini (convenience store) spoils and cocktails-in-a-can jamming with my friend on our guitars. I guess I mention this park and this anecdote because I think it faithfully captures the substance of my life in Tokyo. Despite the many eccentric adventures that will take many weeks of back-logging to accurately relate, my real enjoyment and infatuation with Tokyo isn’t particularly bizarre or exotic. But Tokyo does have a simplistic, beautiful, almost quiet uniqueness, like this park. Quiet because it’s entirely melted into the cityscape; submerged, subdued, but pulling you in with unperceivable force.
Well since I had the boldness to title this post “an introduction” I might as well conclude with a bit of an introduction. I’ve been living in Tokyo now for almost ten months, working as an English teacher (of course). I’ve been trying with varying levels of seriousness to improve my Japanese, so at this point I can get around and survive without much trouble, though I would be at a loss to interpret any bits of Japanese conversation happening around me that I wasn’t a part of. This is technically my second trip to Tokyo, but my first time really making this city my home. I’ve been asked so many times why I love Tokyo, and I’ve never been able to articulate the right answer, so maybe this blog will help me to slowly capture it.
(Although I’ll still be years away from articulating it in Japanese).