Living · Travel

75 hours in Tokyo ~ Day 2

Day 2 started at 8:30 am, after 10 hours of good sleep. Rested, I felt more ready to see the city, to experience the sights and sounds that were to come. I decided to do something I never did, which was to try a brand new food option, Tempura Kurokawa at the outer Tsukiji market. A recommendation by Time Out, I was initially skeptical but it was near enough for a morning walk, I headed over anyway.

With the help of Google Maps, I managed to find my way to the Tsukiji market, but I was unable to locate the eatery even though I saw its sign along the walkway. I spent a few minutes debating what to do. Should I keep searching? Should I give up and try something else? In the end, I had no idea what came over me but I decided to ask for help from 2 Japanese ladies who was standing nearby, waiting for the traffic light to change.

I showed them the name of the place on my phone and the ladies attempted to point me to the location. However, realising that I spoke almost no Japanese, these ladies decided to bring me there instead. Thankfully it was only a minute away from where I was, down a narrow alley that I decided earlier not to venture too deeply into, not believing that the eatery could be located at such a dingy place. It turned out that I was wrong and if I had taken a few more steps forward, I would have reached my destination. Thankfully I managed to find the place eventually with the helps of these kind ladies. Otherwise I might have given up not knowing just how near I was.

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The totally hidden entrance to Tempura Kurokawa

As I sat down and enjoyed the Kakiage Don before me, I could not help but marvel this episode. It could have been a missed opportunity if I had not stepped out of my comfort zone and asked for help. I would have never discovered such glorious Kakiage Don if I never thought to try something different. And I certainly would not have discovered how different I have become if not for this experience. In the past I would have stuck to tried and tested paths, would have shied away from asking for help, afraid to admit my inadequacies and afraid of being rejected. But now, getting to the goal has become more important, and putting myself out there has also become less frightening. All these beautiful realisations because I was pursuing Kakiage Don.

So how was Tempura Kurokawa? It was a really tiny establishment that could at one time sit no more than 20 people. With only 3 persons manning the eatery, I was not quite sure what to expect. Then I took a first bite of my order and it blew my mind away. Everything about it – from the texture of the rice, to the crisp of the tempura batter, the freshness of the seafood within and the warm goodness of the soup broth – was perfect. And it only set me back by 1500 yen! I really wanted another helping after finishing the first, but I resisted though determined that I would be back, definitely.

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Throughout the day, through a series of ‘events’, I started seeing myself with new eyes, noticing the difference between me today and me one year ago. I saw that I was more willing to take risks, more comfortable in new and unknown environments, and more willing to seek help from others, though doing so selectively and with care. I began to wonder if I have finally grown into my own person, whatever that meant. And as I reflected on the day’s events, I remembered a post I made on my friend’s Facebook page, which said, “成熟不是把自己逼得越發堅強,而是越發了解自己的需要” which can be loosely translated into “maturity is not about forcing ourselves to be stronger but about discovering our vulnerabilities (and having the confidence to seek help).” While I wrote it to encourage her, I realised these were words meant for myself as well.

There is really a lot more I can say about the day’s experiences but they are still too raw and muddled to be put into words. Suffice to say that being alone in a foreign land does have its way of clarifying who you are as a person if you care to notice how you act and react to this ‘new’ environment. And I am glad for this unexpected opportunity to reconnect with myself, to understand who I truly am.

As I spent pockets of the day reading Book of Jude and Book of Acts (in part), I am greatly reminded of the call to preserve in Jude 17-23: “But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Waiting is not easy, but sometimes, waiting is all we can do… Till we see new connections, new opportunities and gain new insights to propel ourselves forward.

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