shichijyuuni — shichi – 7, jyuuni – 12. ７月１２日. The 12th of July.
I came to Japan on the 12th of July 2012. I flew from London to Beijing, where I had to wait for about 4 hours, and from there I flew to Tokyo. I remember that the airport in Beijing smelled like soy sauce, it was huge and empty. After another 4 hour flight I was in Tokyo. It felt kind of strange, knowing that I just arrived at the country I’d been dreaming about since I was 16.
I had never been in Japan before, I had only imagined walking through the streets I had seen in movies or guide books. And then, after years of imagining, I was actually in the land of my dreams. I think I kind of couldn’t believe I was actually here in the flesh. At Narita Airport I thought “It’s not as humid as everybody told me it would be”. Then I went outside, and I understood what they were talking about. It felt like sauna, heavy sweet air seemed to stick to my body. So these will be my first memories, wow. The sound of cicadas, the ubiquitous monotonous female voice repeating the same announcements over and over again, very serious train station officers, and jet lag. And super clean cars. Seriously, every car here looks like it’s new (coming from a country where people wash their cars like once a year, yeah, that was surprising).
Yup, these are my first memories.
Beautiful Odaiba, where watching the sun go down will leave you mesmerized (and then you will find out that Odaiba is actually built on top of a pile of rubbish and the magic will be gone forever). Japanese supermarkets, where you’ll have everything you have ever dreamt of buying. Everyday sushi? I could finally have it. Chewing gum with millions of flavours, colourful bento, senbei, sashimi, all that goodnes just 5 minutes away from the guest house I was staying in. My first summer festival wearing a yukata. Cheap geta sandals made walking as painful as it gets, but it was worth it. Izakaya and suspiciously thin beer. Don Quijote! I wish I could remember what I thought when I went to my beloved Donki for the first time and saw some stuffed bums and boob towels hanging from chains. Oh Donki, you’ll always have a special place in my heart. Awesome Japanese food! Believe it or not, the very first time I had gyudon (cheap beef bowl rice) at Matsuya, I thought “Holy crap this is DELICIOUSSSS, I’m gonna eat it everyday” (and I actually did for some time…). *team Matsuya here, Yoshinoya doesn’t hold a stick to it*
Akihabara! I actually went there the next day and had my first (oh so delicious) tsukemen there. So many random memories…Asakusa, that’s where I got my very first omikuji, I wish I had kept it. Tokyo Tower with Zojoji Temple, such a beautiful and peaceful place! And the sky over Japan in the summer — it has this unreal azure colour. Like a Ghibli animation.
Living the life of a working person. Wearing a suit everyday, not much time for fun stuff. I experienced my first hanami in Ueno Park,where thousands of people celebrated the coming of spring. Ueno Park — full of cockroaches, homeless people and shady guys. I love it.
Rainy season again! There are two things I associate with the rainy season: frizzy hair and the cockroach paranoia which means walking with your head down most of the time, because you’re checking if there are any of those ugly black creatures on the ground, so you can either avoid stepping on them or step on them intentionally. My 23rd birthday spent in Harajuku… if anyone had told me a few years back, that all this was going to happen, I never would’ve believed them.
Finally first real vacation! Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Okinawa. It was hot as hell but heavenly beautiful. 2013 passed so fast… I moved into a proper apartment, visited Korea, got a beautiful kokeshi tattooed on my right arm… Too many things to list! And you see, that’s why I love tattoos. When I’m old and wrinkled, I’ll take a look at them and I’ll remember that time when I was living my dream in Japan.
Cat cafes, Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo by night, kimono photo shoot… Sumidagawa fireworks! My friend and I spent 2 hours getting dolled up just to end up soaking wet in the pouring rain. The fireworks got cancelled and I had the longest walk in the rain, wearing a wig and a yukata, with Tokyo Sky Tree in the background. In July 2013 I started volunteering and I consider it to be one of the best things I have ever done.
And this year? Let’s see… I met some of the loveliest people on the planet, discovered more of the amazing places around Tokyo, started some new hobbies. Got some more beautiful tattoos… and I appeared in a magazine called “Tattoo Girls” — as you may have guessed, it’s about tattooed girls and it’s the only magazine of this type in Japan. Stay tuned because I’m going to post some scans here!
Such happy 7 months in 2014!
The largest city in the world has been so kind to me this far. I still have a lot to learn, to see, to explore and experience.
What are your first memories? First impression of Tokyo or any other place in Japan? If you haven’t been here yet, how do you imagine Japan and life here? Share your thoughts in a comment!
Thank you for reading!♥