Saturday, 29 October 2016

Adjusting to Sydney after two weeks in Japan

Readjusting to the rhythms of life in Sydney after spending two weeks in Japan is proving to be problematic. I had a busy time there seeing family and friends and I came away feeling sort of at home. I felt welcome there, even a bit appreciated. The hotel in Shibuya turned out to be a real treat as on its second floor it has three restaurants - an Italian one, a Japanese one and a Chinese one - so I didn't even have to go out in the streets for dinner at night. The Chinese place was established by the mentor of Chen Kenichi - one of the Iron Chefs from the TV program - and they served authentic Sichuan food as well as some other, less fiery dishes.

The weather in Tokyo was fine every day except for one day. I bought an umbrella on that day but left it in the hotel room after I left the country. Shibuya's famous Tokyu chika gai was also a reliable resort. The liquor store there sells a range of good, inexpensive chardonnays - I tried ones from Australia, California and France - and I would buy a bottle usually every second day to drink in my room while watching Japan's famously irrational TV game shows. I loved just sitting back and letting the inanity wash over me in the afternoons, until dinner would draw me out of my room.

That's not all I miss about Japan, of course. It was great seeing the kids again, and I also met up with old friends I used to work with 20 years ago in Shibuya. They took care of me and even invited me to their home for dinner and good conversation.

I had laundry to do when I got back but on returning home I found that the washing machine had stopped working again. I called the repairman and he said he will come by this afternoon. He recently moved his family into the apartment above mine in the building. Meanwhile, I went out to lunch today and headed to the Japanese restaurant where I ate a bowl of udon in a beef curry soup.

I really miss Japan this time. It was expensive living in such a cushy hotel but it was worth it. Being in Shibuya again after so many years of coming back there made me contemplative. The wine and TV took the edge off the melancholy, but I find that now I am back in Sydney I continue to feel sad. Japan is a special place. The Japanese like to think that they are different from other places, but it's true to a large degree. They are different. And it's because of the way people take care of even the smallest things, and pay their respects to the simple gods of the mundane world.

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