Those of you who know me know that I don't mind killing a bit of time playing the odd video game. One of my favourite games is the Final Fantasy series of games and for quite a while I had been meaning to head to their official store which is located in the business district of Shinjuku. A little information about Shinjuku train station. It is officially the busiest train station in the world with an average of over 3 million passengers using the station each day. There are a total of 36 train platforms for the various train lines that use it and well over 200 exits. While I am more adept at finding my way around the station than I used to be, I still seem to find myself coming out of a different exit each time I use the station, and this is after I am sure I have got the right one!! I didn't take any photos of the station today, but will in the future for a different post.
So I made my way out of yet another exit, found my bearings and headed off in the direction of the square enix store. Oh, I forgot to tell you that it was raining again today, and it looked like the owner of this shop hadn't been told either!
About halfway to where I wanted to go, I passed on of Japan's famous Love Hotels.
You might see that in that second picture there are two prices. One is for a rest (3 hours) and the other is for a stay (overnight). These days, more and more, young Japanese people are living at home longer and as a result, it is not possible to bring a guy or girl home at night as Mum and Dad are sleeping on the other side of the paper thin wall. So these Love Hotels (and there are a huge number of them!) are scattered around the city. Basically the rest is if you just want to have a quickie with you boyfriend or girlfriend and the stay is if it is later at night, and you probably won't be finished in time to catch the last train home! Some of them are even set up with themed rooms (Alladin, and....well, have a look if you want to! http://loneleeplanet.com/2010/03/top-10-love-hotel-room-themes/
So I kept on walking and reached my destination. I discovered that the only day of the week that they are closed is on Thursday, and today was.......yep, you guessed it! So I turned around and started trudging back towards the station. Halfway back there I passed a place that myself, my brother Matty and friends Warren and Mark had found when we visited Japan in May 2011. Right next to a busy intersecton was another of Japan's Shinto shrines so I wandered in for a look.
As soon as I stepped into the shrine grounds, as if by magic, the road noise faded to barely a whisper. I don't know how or why that happens, but it does! I was telling one of my students today about this and she said "I know!! Why is that?"!! I wandered around for a little, became at peace with myself and headed back out into the mayhem!
Just around the corner I found myself in the Korean area of Tokyo. I had not seen so many bags stacked like this since the last lot of major flooding in Australia:
That is a lot of rice, even for Japan!!
I'll let you guess about this next one....
Those who guessed a Korean BBQ restaurant were correct!! (at least I think that is what it is...).
And finally, a $50 piece of fruit!
So eventually I made my way home vowing to return on a day off that is not a Thursday, and when I do, I will get some photos of Shinjuku station so you can get an idea of how busy it is.
I recently stumbled across a blog that is similar to mine. A girl from Canada who has moved to Japan. In the post that I was reading, she was lamenting that she will never have the same relationships with her friends back home again after having been gone for so long. This is true to an extent, even if it is only to a small extent, and is one of the things that I deliberated long and hard over before I moved to Japan. All of my friends are fantastically supportive and knew how much I wanted to return and were very supportive of my decision, but I still live with those regrets. Recently one of my closest friends had a milestone birthday and I was sitting in my room here in Tokyo having a beer or two for him and people at the party were posting photos on facebook as the party was happening. It made me feel a little closer to everyone, but at the same time, made me feel so much further away. I have also recently found out that one family member is about to go into hospital for pretty major (but routine they tell me) surgery. It is at moments like these that I start to double check with myself if I have made the right choice.
When I made the decision to follow my "life less normal", I knew that these situations would come around, and I knew that I would feel like this too, but I told myself that I was making the decision to return after having taken everything into account, which I had. It doesn't make times like this any easier, but I know that my friends will always be my friends and that I am only a 12 hour flight away if I ever need to get back home in a hurry.
Thanks for putting up with my ramblings, and I will see you again next week. Take care.