75 hours in Tokyo ~ Day 1

Tokyo is a place I go to whenever I needed some time alone to clear my mind, and so here I am again, slightly more than a year after my last visit in Jun 2015, to reflect, recharge and reacquaint myself with my favourite city. Even though this trip was originally intended as a short break following a very busy period at work; scheduling would have it that from the time I booked this trip to it actually happening, much has happened at home, at work and on the social front, bringing my mind into an overdrive and my heart cold. It felt good therefore to press the pause button, put myself on a plane and take off to Tokyo.

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The clear blue skies of Tokyo warmed my heart on this cool breezy afternoon
Folks have asked me why didn’t I take a red-eye flight to maximise my time in Tokyo, and I didn’t really know why either. It just felt too tiring to be stuck on a plane from midnight to 6 am when I could be sleeping comfortably on my own bed. I guess age has caught up. I thus settled for a 6 am flight which would take me nicely to Tokyo at around 2 pm, with just enough light to walk a bit before ending the day with a nice dinner.

For me at least, I count flight time as part of my vacation. It was in fact precious time for reflection, because stuck in my seat for 6 over hours without an Internet connection, without anyone to talk to, without anything to do, it was the best time to rest and think things through. Or so I thought. I ended up sleeping most of the time on flight, which made me realised how tired I was. And I should not have been surprised. I have been working till midnight for the past month. No wonder my body was screaming for rest.

In fact, when I landed, I didn’t feel the least bit of desire to explore the city. All I wanted to do was sleep. However, I decided to exercise some self-restraint and walked around Ginza a bit, and I am glad I did. I could not put my finger to it but Tokyo felt different from a year ago. Unlike the depressing mood felt in Jun 2015 even though it was spring, there was a lot more good cheer in the air this fall. Maybe the economy was doing better, maybe the political situation stabilised… I don’t know. I really have no idea what changed, but something did, and I felt comforted by it. It reminded me that it is possible for us to get out of the valley, no matter how bad things looked.

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A much livelier Ginza even though it has always been gleaming glitz
Dinner turned out to be a simple affair. I walked to Manten Sushi at Marunouchi Brick Square in faith only to find that they were fully booked for the evening. I was of course disappointed, and about to leave when I hit upon the inspiration to make a reservation for the next evening. It was not easy to communicate my intent due to the language barrier but somehow between my broken Japanese and the server’s broken English, I managed to secure a reservation, taking the last spot (I think!) for the 5 pm seating. This definitely was a highlight of the day even though I still haven’t settled what I was going to do for dinner.

Eventually I walked back the same way I came from and walked into MOS Cafe. I have walked past the cafe many times on my last trip and it did occur to me perhaps I should try it some day, but I never did. What better time than now, where I had no idea what to eat and MOS Cafe was just right in front of me? It was a place frequently primarily by locals which meant the staff weren’t really used to gaijin. That said, they did their best to help me make my order and made an effort to get the staff among them who spoke better English to serve me. Small though these gestures may be, I definitely appreciated them. And to top it off, the food is actually quite good too. Yums!

And with that, Day 1 in Tokyo ended without any fanfare.

This was really a day of trying to stop thinking about work, to stop over-thinking about things past, to stop worrying about things yet to happen… And the biggest lesson learnt today? I was reminded what it meant to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and how truly difficult that was.

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