One year ago today I saw Yoyogi Park for the first time. Here is how it looked this afternoon, as we celebrated this anniversary together:
On that first visit last year, it was a case of instant attraction. I hadn’t been in Japan for very long and had mostly seen people stressed, running for and sleeping on trains, racing from office to English lessons and arriving back home late in the evening. This was before a student told me that writers were born for an idle life, but I was already wondering how someone so temperamentally inclined to indolence could fit into such a hectic society.
When I saw the park that Sunday, I knew that although I wasn’t made for early starts, long commutes and overwork, there was still a space for me in Tokyo. The rest of the week might be a caffeine and nicotine-fuelled head-rush of working through lunch, napping on the train and grabbing dinner at the station, but weekends are firmly for lazing. Head to Yoyogi, stroll around, breathe deep and act like the working week is something that happens to someone else. The park makes it possible to believe that it is. Even when summer glares, it is a haven:
Spring gets a lot of the attention because it is beautiful and short-lived, but the first time I saw Yoyogi Park it was autumn, my favourite season of rich colours and cool evenings. Spending all-too-brief days off there, hand in gloved hand with a boy I thought I might have been falling for, it turns out it was really the park I loved. And that has endured, long after the boy left for a place without seasons, it is Yoyogi that I escape to – when I need to think, or not think – where I go to sit beneath trees and read.
Everyone needs that place of escape. I am lucky to have found mine beneath the clouds, between the pages of a book, encased in headphones. Even when full of holiday crowds, it belongs to me. A place and a love worth celebrating.