I went to Japan on March 16th and came back to New York on March 27th. That was the trip.
I didn’t mean to be cryptic about going to Tokyo, but there were some familial circumstances that made it necessary to keep things on the down-low social media wise. But I’m reasonably sure none of the multitude of Japanese relatives read my blog, so I’ll be writing a few posts over the next few weeks related to the trip.
The last time I went to Japan, I was ten years old, so Japan–and me–have changed a lot in the intervening two decades.
My family isn’t from the Tokyo area, so in the past, at most, my time in Tokyo was limited to overnights before moving on to other parts of Japan, so to spend ten days exploring Tokyo was a real treat.
We went to Japan for a not-very-good reason: my grandmother died in January and we decided to bring her ashes back to Japan to be kept in the Buddhist temple the family belongs to, where my grandpa’s ashes are also. But we ended up having a fun time there, too.
A few random-but-salient facts about Tokyo:
-Tokyo is Japan’s capital city, but also one of its 47 prefectures, where there are 23 special wards, each administered like its own city, but all of it is part of Tokyo.
-Tokyo and its surrounding areas have a really good, incredibly punctual public transportation system. Unlike New York’s, the trains and buses are on time, the stations and platforms and trains are clean (so clean), and the fares are calculated based on distance of travel, so you have to wave your pass thing over the turnstile machine quite often. The trains and buses do not run 24 hours, however.
-I can speak Japanese, but I can’t read it. That is, I can read hiragana (but it takes a long time), katakana (which takes longer), and I can read “1st grade kanji,” which I couldn’t learn and remember when I was 5, never mind now that I’m 31.
-I have no concept of Japanese yen, except that 100 yen is about $1. Hence, the 100 yen shops were my fave places to shop.
-Japan is 13 hours ahead of New York, so, um, the jetlag is real. I slept for 18 hours on Tuesday. I kept wishing for this form of travel instead of a cramped airplane(s) for 15 hours getting there and 14 hours getting back.