It feels as if it has been a long time coming, following the many steps that have brought me from there to here. Finally, barring a few administrative hurdles still to be negotiated, I will be a Tokyo resident.
The lure of the big, bad city on my doorstep has been a siren call since my plane landed. Like London Heathrow, they call it Tokyo Narita even though it is a couple of hours outside the city centre. Fitting in weekend trips to the clubs, parks and shops around work, planning sightseeing adventures and taking time for people-watching from the cafes. All enjoyable escapades ruined too soon by the intrusion of the long train ride back to the ‘burbs.
After 11 March, we all had our own decisions to make. You might have thought that 24 hours stranded in Tokyo would have soured me on it somewhat. Instead, even as I was traipsing through the freezing, crowded streets, I was reasoning that if I lived in a more central location I would have been safely home. That night I resolved, before falling into a hazy, aftershock-interrupted sleep, to make sure I did something about it.
Before I could, there was a sea of goodbyes to navigate. I believe I understand the thoughts of those who have chosen to bring their Japanese adventures to an end, even as I know there is nowhere else I would rather be at present. I am lucky to have met some incredible people before they departed and fortunate enough to have been shown their favourite corners of the city so that I can now adopt them as my own.
I have other plans for this new start. Including the locating of the perfect writing cafe, maybe to get a bike or to walk around more, not because the trains are stopped this time, but for the fun of it. There are bars to find, friends to meet and streets to explore. I can’t wait to see what Tokyo has to show me once I am a resident and no longer a visitor.
So this isn’t an end, or the beginning of the end. It is perhaps the end of the beginning.
Sayonara Kashiwa. Konnichiwa Tokyo.