Today is October 15th, 2011. I am currently in Tokyo, Japan. I am fighting off a cold, and I can’t help but drift into thought.
It has been over a month since I have stepped foot in this country and I can’t believe just how much I’ve experienced and seen. On the other hand I have a hard time grasping how fast the last 32 days have gone by. Japan has started to become familiar in every aspect. Everything from the cars, food, buildings, trains and certainly the people. However I am still at a loss when it comes to try to communicate in their native tongue. Hand gestures are certainly the best method of cross communication.
I had a random thought today while I was sitting in a car that was taking us to see the Tokyo Sky Tree; Would I be able to live here? Could I leave Canada and live in this country? It dawned on me that I probably wouldn’t. Not to say that Japan isn’t a livable country, obviously it is, but I have accepted that fact that my upbringing in Canada has just programmed me in such a way that I require space. I now know just how lucky we are back home to have so much of it and I certainly have a new gratitude for all the parks and mountains that we have at our disposal.
Japan is crowed, that’s a fact. Although there is also a unique sense of comfort in it. The masses of people bring a certain energy to the streets and cities, but it can make you feel lost in the mix. Now, not being of Japanese decent I haven’t been able to ‘get lost on the mix’ but it is quite an experience to walk through Tokyo station during rush hour and being surprised that I made it across the station in one piece. I have to give props to the people who engineered Japan’s transportation systems! The sheer need for efficient and effective transportation in Japan has led it to create some of the most intricate highway systems (and yes when I mean highways, here it means they are 30 metres off the ground) and some of the most amazing train systems. It’s baffling how they manage to keep them all running.
So why wouldn’t I want to live in a country that has some of the best transportation in the world? Well to start I’ve been living on trains it seems. The first couple trips on the Shinkansen were quite exciting but now it has transformed into a regular means of transportation. The “magic” of the Bullet Train has started to fade.
Therefore the amazing trains and maze like highway systems aren’t enough to break my bond with the frigid Albertan winters, yet there are things that I am going to miss dearly. Mostly the food. Japan is much more than sushi and varieties of uncooked seafood. I have enjoyed a wide variety of food; meals that were from convenient store to the random Ramen shop down a dark alley. The food here is made to taste good, but it isn’t filled with excessive amounts of sugar or salt. Overall you just feel better eating food here. It’s light and filling. I calculated this into my question about living here and even though I love food, it still wouldn’t lead me to live here. Suddenly I was confused as to why I was analyzing why I had to know the answer to this question. I think it had to do with what I was always thinking Japan was before I got here. The fantasy of this world, this metropolitan country that was so different, so filled with quirky anime characters and ridiculous TV shows. This image of what I though Japan was has slowly transformed into something completely different.
I realized that the one big difference between living in Tokyo rather than Calgary would be the people. Second, would be the weather (but I believe that there’s no such thing as bad weather just bad clothes) which is fairly different. The core aspects of life are identical. You need to work, you need a place to live, and you need food in your body. So it was clear to me that the factor around space was really my issue. I need that 3 hour drive between Calgary and Edmonton no matter how boring it may be. Personal preference I guess.
Basically, I have accepted that I may not be that person who lives outside of Canada permanently. No matter how much I am interested in another country. Don’t get me wrong, I love travelling it is an exhilarating feeling being on the move all the time and seeing new sites and eating new foods. Exploring this world will be a life long addiction, but I think I now know that I will always have that home in Canada somewhere.