And say goodbye to some of my money too………………………
My exposure to Japanese culture started around 25 years ago. I guess. Well maybe 23 years ago. My first, ever comic: Doraemon. Ever since he has been living in my blood and soul.
For around 20 years I spent my life reading comics. In the comic cafe, comic rental space, my friends, my own, until one day I stopped when the price of comic hits IDR 12,000.- then I should decide between reducing the portion of my me-time activities or buying comics. I said goodbye to comics and at the same time also proud of my old collection of horror comics, Doraemon, and Pengantin Demos (Demos’s Bride).
OK ENOUGH ABOUT COMICS. Let’s move on.
Days go by. Weeks, months, years, the dream of visiting Japan keep floating in my mind. It secretly emerges, then it hides again. On, and off. And so on, and so on; until one sunny day in June 2016 (hmm yes, 20 years goes by) I sat on my desk in my office pressing ctrl+T and opened Garuda Indonesia site and book a return flight to Tokyo.
There. I did that. Was trying to give me a present for my 30th birthday. “I could use this moment to celebrate my 3!”, so I thought. I used to be afraid to travel alone. Thoughts came up in my mind like: You’ll leave your job for a week? Your family? Who’d wash the clothes at home? Who’d do your job when you leave? Will you survive? You’ve never been alone in travelling, should you join a tour or something? What goes first: a chicken or an egg? What if the airplane enter a black hole and you disappear and turned into a slave on another planet? Can you breathe there? – and any other nonsense thoughts.
But then I’m like: 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔
“Enough of that, just press that purchases icon and goes back to work”, said my brain. (Well, after I called my credit card’s customer service to see how much did I have)
I learned that random, unplanned decision can lead to something interesting. I just have to make the first move. The rest will follow.
SO THERE. I trust my gut feeling soo much I didn’t feel worried at all/ any confusion, cautious (for flying solo). For me, if it feels good/ okay-ish, then it will be good/ okay-ish.
I came to Tokyo with 3 doubts in me:
Can I read maps? I can’t barely differentiate which one is left or right.
Answer: I CAN’T BELIEVE I CAN.
Tokyo has an excellent train system. The timing is very precise, the signage is also clear. When you hit the train station, just read the direction and pay attention to the colour that differentiates the line & the line name too! Use maps: it is super useful. I like it because it has different colours which make navigating easy. Stuck? Ask the officer! (Using any way of communication that you have… They speak little English & they’re super helpful). AND I CAN READ DISNEYLAND & DISNEYSEA MAPS LIKE A PRO BTW. (I am very proud of myself. Maybe because of Disney)
Can I share my sleeping & bathing space with strangers?
Answer: I doubt it at first but I never know if I never try. Apparently, I CAN.
And it was a good experience. This place is called YAWP! Backpackers is located a bit far from the central area in Tokyo, close to Narita airport but the place has its own character (the owner Tak is an illustrator!). If two of my must-haves is fulfilled (comfortable & spacious bed, clean bathroom), I am good to go. This is my very first experience staying in a hostel. I didn’t like the idea of sharing personal space (sleep, living room, kitchen, bathroom) but I realize that the reason why I didn’t like isn’t strong. I never tried! And it’s not like I want to stay in a hostel 24/7.
Can I communicate well when I need help?
Answer: Depend, if I need help or not but overall: communication is not the issue here.
First thing first, I always thought: what is the worst thing that could happen? In train station/ signage on the street, they have written in Latin too so that helps. Body language helps too (and they’re trying to be as helpful as possible) so that helps. And I can write on/ draw on what I mean so that helps too. After all, it’s always good to not always understand everything, so that you can learn and eventually, understand 🙂
Can I wander alone, by myself?
Oh, solitude is my best friend & going places alone is what I do best. Having said that, I wanted to try & explore a different thing: be open.
Staying in a hostel is one thing. The other thing is also to join online social media platforms like Couchsurfing for example. “Stay with Locals and Meet Travelers”, is what Couchsurfing is. From there too, you can find travellers that have the same interest/ itinerary with you/ simply just meet up in someplace. I spent 2 days (Disneysea & Ghibli Museum) with someone named Olivier (a.k.a DJ Bubzz) & we clicked from the first time we communicate, day 1 we met in Shibuya & the remaining days together.
The idea scares me at first. Meeting a stranger. But hey again, I never tried that & the experience of being open didn’t hurt me at all. I would love to do that again! 🙂
I came to Tokyo also, with some bucket lists and am proud to check all of them! Actually, it’s a lifetime bucket list so whenever I got the chance, I just tick it. Some of them are:
Picnic! In the park. Sitting. On the grass. Beautiful grass. Beautiful park. Beautiful weather ;;_______;;
DISNEYLAND (with bonus: DISNEYSEA) OMG OMG
Not only a fan of Doraemon, but I’m also a fan of Disney especially classical Disney. Impulsively bought 2 days pass to Disneyland and Disneysea, those 2 days were some of the best memory I ever had. It’s like: well, I don’t know how to explain, it’s just I unleash the child part of me. I think I became younger now *smirk*
- Disneyland is more dedicated to children whereas young adult-adult can enjoy Disneysea more because the attraction itself is different. Check the site to learn more.
- Even if you don’t like popcorn, JUST BUY THAT GODDAMN POPCORN KAWAIII CONTAINER or whatever the name is.
- Make use of Fast-track ticket for that one attraction that you really want, but has queue as long as the epic silk road.
Eat sushi where the name came from. And it has to be sushi from that walking belt thing.
Found one place in Ueno, right across from the Ueno station. This is a very memorable experience for me too because: it is absolutely delicious. AND IT IS CHEAP. Imagine 1 plate is 150 yen and 1 yen = IDR 130 so it makes around IDR 19,500 per plate whereas sushi here is like IDR 35,000 – 55,000. Long story short, I ate like 7 or 8 plates with miso shiru too AND IT WAS THE BEST DINNER I HAD before my flight back to Jakarta… I love to end my day with something memorable.
Public bath. Like, taking a bath, in public, in public bath, with other people
After sushi, I met with Soe, my long time friend in university back in 2004. We had a great chat (like a really great chat!) and I told her that next time I go back to Tokyo, I want to try a public bath. And she was like, “Let’s do it now”. And I looked at her with watery eyes and said, “I love you even more” (not like that lesbian romantic scene where we ended up together naked in a public bath, not even close though).
FINALLY. After I didn’t make it to the larger one in the Odaiba area, I finally made it in Ueno!! Thanks, Soe for initiating and navigating the way.
Well, the public bath is like: you go in – separate way from the male area – you strip in the locker/ changing/ powder room – go in a place which has few showers and mirror and small chair – and you can choose between 3 hot tubs. The least hot one is HOT for me. The hottest one is like 42 degrees Celcius, I didn’t go there obviously. I wouldn’t write this blog if I go in there. I might be dead.
Above: us in the public bath. After bath. It was a priceless experience! :-*
It all comes to an end. But it’s not the end.
Every time I visit a place, I always explore the possibility of me coming back to that place. It can come from different things: the vibe, the culture, the people, the easiness to navigate/ transport, how I feel when I step out from the airport, the system, everything! – and I’d definitely go back to Tokyo one day. (I am very sure about that!!)
In fact, I randomly bought another return ticket to Osaka this October before my visa expires. Now I need to figure out where will I get the money to survive there…………….
Oh, If you want to see a few pictures from the trip, check my Facebook album here.
Snippet: One doodle I made there. Work in progress.
Oh, anyone in Osaka/Kyoto end of October? 🙂