Sorry for not writing for such a long time, I think I have hit a point in my travels where I feel severely unbalanced in the time that I apply to school, friends, interests, and most importantly myself.
I wanted this post to be fun, but I think it’s important to talk about some more “real” things — mainly how to travel and not feel disconnected from yourself and the struggles of navigating a society different than your own (JUST BRIEFLY).
I would like to start by saying that I love Japan, the people here are very kind, very helpful, and there’s a certain comfort knowing that no one really cares about what you’re doing — with over 30 million people living in one area, it’s hard to think longer than 30 seconds about other people and their actions. With that, it’s also important to note that I have a pass because I am obviously a foreigner. I have friends that are Taiwanese, Korean, and Chinese and just because their nationality isn’t starkly obvious, their experience with some Japanese people have been harsher and much more stressful for them to experience. I can’t directly speak to this because I do not live and experience this, but I would just keep that in mind if you come to Japan. I am also trying to unpack how I feel about being on the outside (and the excuses you have because of it) and the truth that you will never be truly allowed in.
Self care wise, I am trying to put into practice saying no — this is the opposite of my original plan because I want to experience a lot of things, but it’s taking a toll on me and therefore I need to cut back on some things . I acknowledge that I am hypocritical because this is my main issue — but I’m trying to do one thing that is JUST for me, once a day. My dad says “find a garden” when ever I am stressed but that’s a bit hard when you’re in a city packed with buildings (haha). Since I am hyper-extroverted, the best I can do now is to take time by myself. I try to commute to school by myself so I can listen to music and read a bit before I throw myself into the lives of other people.
OKAY! THAT WAS IT! NOW THAT WE’VE CLEARED THAT UP — LET’S TALK ABOUT FUN THINGS
ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT, SO. Since I’ve last updated I have experienced a trip to see Mt. Fuji, a typhoon, a copious amount of classes, a shopping spree, and a temple — you ready for the briggity break down?
“Leggo” — Alexander Hamilton
MY TRIP TO MT. FUJI
Super fun! I went to Yamanashi Prefecture, which is roughly a two-hour drive from Tokyo (my friend Emi drove), and it is BEAUTIFUL — I needed to see some nature and you bet I got my fix. It’s very cool because Tokyo is just buildings but you get 30 minutes outside of the city (by car) and it’s just mountains and trees — so extremely green <3.
The downside of the trip was that we went on a cloudy day so we didn’t actually get to see the mountain (we’re dumb we know) — we still had a blast, we went and ate houda — a udon-esqe noodle that is famous within Yamanashi. The best part of this dish is that IT ONLY HAS VEGETABLES IN IT! WOOHOO! GO ME! GO YAMANASHI!! GO VEGGIE-BASED DISHES! FINALLYYYYYY!!!
Afterwards we went to a lake (where you can see the mountain) but conveniently for us and our overcast weather, got to hang out on the lake and look at everything else other than the mountain. In our pursuit of some sick views, we went to a shine/lookout for Mt. Fuji (the one that you have most likely seen on every google search for Japan).
Woot! Woot! If you have kept up with our current trend, we didn’t see the mountain but got a pretty great view of the city.
To make the trip worth it, we went to an onsen: a Japanese bathhouse that was on top of a mountain, where you can look out and see all of the city lights — it was seriously one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen (the entire city laid out against a mountain; the lights looked like extremely bright stars in the sky) I would have taken a picture but obviously cameras are not allowed in a bathhouse. Also if you were unaware Japanese onsen are primarily anti-tattoo, and requires you to be naked, so if you feel uncomfortable, that’s something to consider.
Briefly on onsen’s, most are divided into male and female sections and then there are some that are meant for couples so both men and women can go, but that has a reputation of quite a few pervy men so attend with that in mind (yikes).
*** FUN FACT*** If I can be 100% honest, I totally forgot that I had tattoos until I was already in the water and my friend and I were freaking out that I’d be kicked out but we managed to attend one that is tattoo friendly without even checking 🙂 what great timing 🙂
THE TYPHOON was a little more concerning, we got the largest typhoon of the year a few weeks ago, and it was my first time prepping for a natural disaster so I made sure I had water and non-perishable food for three days. I also moved my bed away from my window because the wind was so strong a newspaper would’ve shattered it. In actuality I thought the typhoon was anticlimactic, I spent a lot of time playing mahjong, and taking naps, eating food and watching movies, until the next day when I found out that within my prefecture 15 people died, and several others died outside of my prefecture, with heavy amounts of flooding, but based off of where my building was located, I had no major issues with the storm. If you have a Japanese phone number you would’ve received alerts of the storm, where flooding has occurred , who needs to evacuate, etc. I do not have a Japanese phone number, so I found information on tv, they have specific apps to alert you, and the internet is always a good source (the internet doesn’t lie right?)
THE TEMPLE on the other hand, was really quite lovely. My friends and I went a few days after the typhoon since the weather after a typhoon is always extremely sunny (I don’t know why that is but it’s been very consistent so far). The temple was situated within a very quite part of town, semi-large apartment buildings, a vending machine directly outside, and a 7-11 down the street — you enter into an older, silent, more peaceful world when you cross into the temple. When you first enter, it is customary to wash your hands and mouth, to purify your body before you enter a holy space. Although it was primarily Shinto, it maintained a significant amount of Buddhist influences and the marriage between the two faiths was beautiful. Although I was not allowed to take photos of the inside of the temple, and I don’t consider myself to be religious, there was still this overwhelming amount of comfort that settled on me when I entered. I felt like I was able to receive some clarity, could see myself and the world around me a bit better — what I needed to do and what I needed to do specifically for me and my health. I’m sure my experience is not the same as everyone else’s, but if you ever have a chance, I recommend going, sitting quietly, and taking some time to listen to what the earth wants to tell you. It’s extremely rewarding.
Alrighty folks, that’s all I got for ya this time around! I’ll write more soon I promise 🙂
Live long and prosper,