Konichiwa, I’m in Japan! Only for a little stopover. Well, its a 12-hour stopover, so not exactly ‘little.’
The flight from Delhi was about 7 hours. I watched 3 movies on the flight: Spotlight, Irrational Man and Jungle Book. Japan Airlines is the best by the way, if you ever get the chance, fly with them. Before we landed I gazed out of the window as our plane pierced through dark clouds and I was able to see glimpses of the luscious green patches of farmlands that lay beneath. Everything was so lush and well hydrated. Little droplets of water formed streaks on the window and I suddenly remembered I didn’t even think to pack an umbrella. By the time I passed through customs it was 7am. I took the subway to Narita for ¥200 ($2.50CAD). As soon as I left the subway I was hit with the familiar smell of summers in Canada, the smell of wet pavement that has been simmering in the sun all day. It was muggy and humid with dark rain clouds billowing above. I wandered along the street until it started to rain so heavily my shirt started to get soaked. I didn’t really mind getting wet but then I remembered that I’d be traveling in these clothes for the next 24 hours. So I ducked into a small hardware store and picked out a transparent umbrella, the best kind of umbrella. The cashier didn’t speak a word of English but I guess he assumed I’d spoken Japanese because he chatted away with me as if we’d been friends for years. I smiled back, muttering out “arigatou!” as I turned to leave, not having a clue what he was saying. I continued down the street until I reached a thousand year old temple called Naritasan Shinshoji. No one was around but me, I don’t think it had opened yet. I followed a stone step path further inside to a couple of lakes and fountains. It was incredibly peaceful to listen to the sounds of trickling water and the humming of cicadas. I was so entranced by the forest I got lost and couldn’t find my way out. The signs leading the way we’re in Japanese and no one was around to ask for directions. I finally found a path in between large suburban houses, clearly not the right route. I came across a coffee shop with a sign outside that said: “we hav bleafast.” I pulled the door but it was closed. I wondered what the “bleakfast” would have been, sashimi scramble eggs? I noticed a McDonald’s just down the road so I reluctantly went there instead. It was the only shop open. I ordered a coffee and an Egg McMuffin and pulled out my laptop to do some writing.
It’s riveting to be plucked directly from raw India and dipped into raw Japan. To just be able to experience a glimpse of someone’s daily routine in Japan. The yawning shop owners unlocking doors and opening their blinds, the sushi artists masterfully slicing fish or the high school kids walking by in groups wearing sailor moon looking uniforms. I’m just so grateful to be able to see two different cultures compared beside each other with such vividity. It makes me happy to be alive, to be able to experience life and all these moments that take your breath away. I’m so fortunate.