sayonara (for now)

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”
– Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran (2003)
People often ask me what I love most about living in Japan or how I’ve changed from living here.
I usually say that my ability to read people’s true meaning has improved. Whether by body language, subtle choice of words, or past history, Japanese people and the expats who love them have learned to soften their responses to either avoid offense or carefully craft their words to cut deepest. For someone who wears her heart on her sleeve, it has been a rich lesson in humanity to interpret these subterranean meanings and facial expressions.
Perhaps one day I will eschew the habit of extreme deference for the rough and tumble life of an aggressive New Yorker, or I’ll no longer bow to those who hold the elevators doors open. Maybe I will ease up on deflecting compliments, suggesting that it was the cohesion of the group that resulted in success, or apologize for the smallest inconveniences. A culture’s pervasive and everyday influence on you can go unnoticed until you’ve stepped outside it to reflect on the experience from a different angle. But somehow I feel that consideration of others and the knowledge that I am but a single speck in a pulsating mass of humanity, each of us who contribute to the beautiful undulations of its tapestry; these developed feelings are for the better. I know that my life in Japan has changed part of me forever.
post script: When I don’t feel like giving the long answer to the question of ‘what will you miss most about Japan?’, I usually say ‘heated toilet seats’. People seem incredulous at this response, but the truth is, now that I am relegated to the cold indifference of porcelain, it’s a real BUMMER. 😉
my last day as a citizen was Wednesday, January 24, 2018 so this post is a bit delayed
xo your friend alice
Location: Tokyo, Japan
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tokyo somewhere (part ii)

un autre très petit journal des photographies autour de Tokyo…
another little diary of photos around Tokyo…
東京の写真パート2

take a peek at part I here

feat. Shinjuku Gyoen Botanical Garden, コフィノワ Coffee NOVA (my favorite coffee spot in Kuramae), Tokyo Metro, Shirube izakaya in Shimokitazawa, Daikanyama graffiti, Senso-ji Temple AsakusaIMG_6599_MG_6512IMG_9001.JPGIMG_1098IMG_3179_MG_5554IMG_7001
xo your friend alice

Location: Tokyo, Japan

marunouchi から ginza

my walk to work and back home…

I am staying with a lovely friend in higashi-ginza right now and as my days as a resident of this country wind down, I’ve got to savor and memorialize these daily sights and routines.

shin-marunouchi building…where I spend most of my days in JapanIMG_8951IMG_8949IMG_8959IMG_8966IMG_8969views from our balcony…

Location: 銀座 Ginza, Chuo-ku & 丸の内 Marounouchi, Chiyoda-ku // Tokyo, Japan

hunger of the pine

Deep under the cover of leaves and rolling mist, the trees whispered their secrets to me. My heart expressed its sorrows and the moss blanketing the forest silently understood. I have been experiencing some personal heartache recently, and as much as reason exhorts emotion to be still, sometimes all you really need to do to reflect on pain is to temporarily remove yourself to a different reality to encourage a likewise change in perspective. It almost always works for me.

I flew to Kagoshima and then took the hydrofoil (a fancy word for a quick ferry) to Yakushima for a strong dose of shinrin-yoku (森林浴 forest bathing), calling upon nature as therapy. My friend Daniel, who I met back in January on a ski/snowboard trip to Nozawa Onsen, joined me (*friendship level-up!).

Mononoke Hime, known to English-speaking audiences as Princess Mononoke, is based on this forest. Apparently Hayao Miyazaki, one of his main animators Masashi Ando, and a team of artists went to Yakushima to sketch landscapes for the film back in 1995. Japanese people hold a deep reverence for nature and I felt this peace ring through my body in my two days in these forests. I could not have asked for a more warm embrace by my friends the veteran 3000 year old trees, moss, gentle deer, sly spiders, and mercurial skies. Not only beautiful to look at, but they expect nothing in return and are the best listeners 🙂

Heartbreak can manifest in many ways, whether it be romantic or platonic, and I believe it to be an essential human experience. It’s okay to feel sad, just remember that you are magical and you will keep radiating love into the universe. You will attract what you express. You may stumble, but you will not stay down. IMG_9542.jpgIMG_9141IMG_9399

IMG_9121.jpgIMG_9398.jpgIMG_9248.jpgIMG_9252IMG_9281IMG_8038.jpgIMG_9323Japanese wilderness explorer uniformIMG_9333

IMG_9343IMG_9448IMG_9429hi cuties

IMG_9441IMG_9481IMG_9471my spidey senses are tingling…IMG_9541IMG_9547IMG_9422IMG_8032

IMG_9409IMG_9241.jpgIMG_8018.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

xo your friend alice


Location: Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan

in the midst of adolescence

Now is the time in my life
that has been filled with aspirations
over many long years
that I shake off the anguish of my heart and
send my lofty aspirations high up into the sky till
they reach the end of the universe
This fierceness of living
through joys and sorrows of life
sometimes distressed and sometimes
comforted by a joy
Agonising over the undulation of life and
moved to tears at the weight of life
I want to keep living until the last days of my life

– Yayoi Kusama, AnOther Magazine (2012)

I’m not an adolescent anymore, but neither is Kusama-san, who wrote and published this poem at age 83.

I couldn’t snag tickets to her new museum in Shinjuku (yabai) but luckily I caught her ‘My Eternal Soul’ exhibit at the National Art Center back in April. She has achieved a sort of legendary status in Japan and abroad with her ‘instagrammable’ infinity rooms and polka-dotted multi-colored, whimsical pumpkin art. Her concept of “self-obliteration” is to become completely engulfed by art. But I most admire her utter lack of apologism. She is completely free and unassuming about her sexuality, mental illness, abstraction, joy in life, love of freedom and desire for fame. Her soul strikes me as dense and light at the same time–but most of all she is free–and I understand why people are drawn to that feeling.Image result for yayoi kusama youngImage result for yayoi kusamaxo your friend alice

Location: Tokyo, Japan

japanniversary (year two)

It’s September 24th again and time for another round of what did I do during my year in Japan?

This same time last year I thought I would be slaying the LSAT. Sadly I have not proven to be the all-natural standardized testing whiz I once thought I was, so while I ponder my fate as a legal professional, let’s take a look back on this wonderful year in Japan filled with a few transitions and leaps forward.

October

November

December

  • served on bonenkai committee for my company holiday party
  • saw one of my all-time favorite bands, the XX in tokyo
  • took the LSAT for the first time :/
  • trip to atami in izu
  • hakone xmas with mamaimg_4984

January

February

  • attended my first bikram yoga class in Japan at Bikram Ginza
  • ran the Tokyo Marathon and Friendship Run, raising ¥100,000 to support Special Olympics NipponIMG_5294.jpg

March

  • CHO(L)A takes Japan (a return to kyoto, my 1st time in osaka & kobe, and tokyo)_MG_6140_MG_6389
  • start of hanami season (yoyogi park)IMG_5508
  • celebrating the first day of spring in fukuoka

April

May

June

  • britney spears concert at yoyogi national stadium
  • Puroresu FMW (Japanese pro wrestling)
  • trip to fuji-Q highland roller coaster park & lake kawaguchiko

July

  • 26th birthday (star festival)
  • tokyo disney sea
  • trip to okinawaIMG_8647
  • maguro cutting & tokyo bay cruise
  • osaka & kyoto with the Suzukis
  • universal studios osaka
  • moved from kuramae to ginza (more on that later)
  • softbank hawks vs. nippon ham fighters baseball game

August

September

  • took the LSAT for the 2nd time
  • worked on law school applications *crossing my fingers & toes*
  • ultra music festival
  • booze cruise in tokyo bay

Firsts

Goals before I say Ta Ta For Now to Japan this December…

  • visit all 4 main islands in Japan [hokkaido, honshu, (coming for you!) shikoku, kyushu]

Looking back at this second year in Japan, I feel so happy and blessed to have witnessed so much beauty, both in humanity and nature. Of course there have been low points but they serve to make the moments of connection and growth all the sweeter. I’ve had a few personal revelations and challenges this year that I will save for reflection at the end of 2017. If you’re curious, take a peek at last year’s japanniversary post. Thanks to you for dropping by dear reader.

xo your friend alice

Location: Tokyo, Japan