Small in Japan

Adventures in Far East Asia


Day 1 Part 1
Day 3 Part 1
Day 5 Part 1
Day 7 Part 1
Day 1 Part 2
Day 3 Part 2
Day 5 Part 2
Day 7 Part 2
Day 2 Part 1
Day 4 Part 1
Day 6 Part 1
Day 2 Part 2
Day 4 Part 2
Day 6 Part 2
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 Travelling without reason(s)

Japan - WTF?

Before I'm going to present the outcomings of my Tokyo tour, I would like to talk about my reasons. Why on earth would a 30-year-old guy from Germany even consider travelling to a country that is so far away? Do I have relatives there? No. Do I have a faible for Japanese women? No. Do I even study the language? No. Simply no. There is no reason for this journey besides the fact that I would like to see if life is completely different there. I imagined a busy crowd rushing through the streets, hectic everywhere, no quiet places and a great deal of flashing lights. Recently, my closest connection to Japan was a blog by an American who went over there to teach English at (junior) high schools. His reports are full of shock, disbelief and they are amazingly funny. Also, I kind of liked the idea of visiting the origin of one of my hobbies: video games. So there I went.

Not alone train

So why did I choose to go there from 17 to 24 March 2009? The answer is simple: The Tokyo marathon took place on March 22nd, and I knew a person who a) participated and b) went to Tokyo before. He's the cheerful guy in the picture to the right. So he could be some kind of guide in a city I had the wildest expectations of. I told a friend of mine (see picture below) about these plans, and he spontaneously said that he would like to come with us. At that point, I didn't think that this might be a problem. So, there were three Germans in London on March 17th, waiting for their plane to leave for Tokyo.

Just a few words about these pictures: I met the guy on the right, his name is Sven, on a real life meeting of an internet discussion forum about video games about 6 years ago. We got along quite well, mainly because we share the same kind of (sober or dry) humour and the passion for movies. He watches far more movies than I do, but whenever he drops a line of a film known to me, I can give the matching reply, and we both end up smiling. It's just some sort of connection. Although we have never spent more than one long evening playing Nintendo games and are leading completely different lives, we got along superbly. He works for German state television as a technician, I may add.

The guy on the picture below is Oliver. I've known him since we were teenagers. He is about 3 years younger than me, and we met at a mutual friend's house. He also likes to play video games, and when you go to school in Germany, you will end up having a lot of free time at your hands. His parents' house was about a minute's walk from my parents', and so we met a lot. He also is a very funny lad, and whenever we hung out or went out on the weekends, we had a great time. Today, he works as a male nurse in a psychiatric clinic. Extra info: He never lived in a place that had more than 3,500 inhabitants and has a bad sense of orientation. His friends call him "Mr. Orient" because of this (actually, that name is a quote from a German hip-hop song called "Wildwechsel," in which someone states: "I'm the one always running in the wring direction, that's why my bandmates call me Mr. Orient"). It fits perfectly...

trainBack to the travel report: I have a habit of trying to find out the nationality of other travelers. I watch them for some time and infer from their outer appearance (face, haircut, clothing, hand luggage) from where they might come. I'm pretty good at narrowing it down and my guesses are close most of the time. This morning, the other travelers did not try hard to conceal their origin. Japanese people in Europe are rare, and they are easy to spot. Also, there was a group of Norwegians, they were easy to identify: One of them was wearing a wool hat with the country's colours, and one of them actually brought a little flag.

The reason I'm going on about these people is that fate gave them their seats in the row behind ours. So, during the boarding process, I took the chance of having some international conversation, which is a hobby horse of mine. I like to get to know foreigners, even if it's just for one short talk. They were pretty talkative, and it turned out that they all were around 17 years old and headed to Japan as exchange students. As if this wasn't fascinating enough, one of them helped me erase the length of the 11 hour flight. The seat next to me was empty; Liv Sofie took it and spent nearly half of the flight talking to me and eased my fear when we were about to land at Narita airport. The incredibly large plane frightened me with its odd slowing-down-and-losing-height-procedure, but this far-traveled girl calmed me down charmingly. Thank you again!