And say goodbye to some of my money too………………………
My exposure over 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.
Doraemon, Indonesian edition, very cheap around IDR 2,000.- per comic. Maybe now it’s like IDR 20,000.- pfffft!! ///// Above: I can relate to Nobita’s feeling when trying to read a book.
For around 20 years I spent my life reading comics. In 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 in 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 goes by. Weeks, months, years, the dream of visiting Japan keep floating in my mind. It secretly emerge, 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 myself a present in 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 in another planet? Can you breathe there? – and any other nonsense thoughts.
But then I’m like:
“Enough of that, just press that purchase icon and go 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 worry 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 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 differentiate 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)
Left-right: Signage in train station – There are lots of train system apps that you can download in your mobile – Pay attention to the map on the right one..Well, my drawing too if you want..
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 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-have 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 hostel 24/7.
Clockwise from top left: Entrance – living room – bunkbeds – my bed – living room again – eggs that you can get in the fridge, self service! (wonder why they have good looking eggs, though…)
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 writing 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 different thing: be open.
Staying in a hostel is one thing. The other things is also to join online social media platform like Couchsurfing for example. “Stay with Locals and meet Travelers”, is what Couchsurfing is. From there too, you can find travelers that has the same interest/ itinerary with you/ simply just meetup in some place. 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! 🙂
Above: Both of us, with Underwater Goofy! Photo credit: Olivier with his new phone! >:|
I came to Tokyo also, with some bucket list and proud to check all of them! Actually, it’s a lifetime bucketlist 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 ;;_______;;
Left: Delicious food from convenience store (sushi, onigiri with karage, fried squid and shrimp. Ate it in Ghibli Museum’s nearby park – Right: Shinjuku Gyoen Garden, my second picnic place.
DISNEYLAND (with bonus: DISNEYSEA) OMG OMG
Not only a fan of Doraemon, I’m also a fan of Disney especially classical Disney. Impulsively bought 2 days pass to Disneyland and Disneysea, those 2 days were one 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 the Ueno station. This is 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 plate 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.
Left: this restaurant is called Obolatsu in 12, Ueno 6-Chome, Taito. Located right next to 7Eleven. – Right: my favorite sushi!! Simply because it has rice (of course), salmon, and sprinkle of onion and spring onion and some mayo sauce. *cry happy tears*
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, 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 Odaiba area, I finally made it in Ueno!! Thanks Soe for initiating and navigating the way.
Well, 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 degree 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 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 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? 🙂