From Tokyo with Love: September 2021

On my way to Kichijoji yesterday to meet some friends for lunch, I had to pass through Shibuya in order to change trains onto the Inokashira line. As I exited Shibuya station, it made me realise how little time I spend these days in big areas such as Shibuya and Shinjuku. But it also made me reminisce about the day I first arrived in Tokyo, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed back in 2012, making the exact same transfer on my way to Shimokitazawa where I would live for the next five years. As the train stopped at Shimo yesterday, I was hit by a big wave of natsukashii – the feeling when something evokes a fond memory from your past. I pictured myself walking those streets years ago, and from the train window I could actually see the exact spot where I first met my wife. 

I have a very strong connection to Tokyo now. I know the city extremely well, and each area and station brings back different memories and feelings. Having spent a quarter of my life here, it’s only natural that the things that once wowed me have now become ‘normal’, but I’m no less excited to be living here. Excited is maybe the wrong word – perhaps happy and comfortable sums it up better. And while walking through areas like Shibuya no longer hits me like it did when I first set foot in Tokyo, it still means something, as those streets form part of my journey from over the past ten years.

My life is much quieter these days than it was in my 20s & 30s. I gave up drinking four years ago, so bars and clubbing are a thing of the past. Like everyone, I’m also travelling a lot less too – partly due to being settled here, partly because of the impact of COVID. I read a quote that I think is quite fitting for the stage of life I am at. “The peaceful garden works at a furious pace beneath the surface.” It takes effort and a lot of life experience to arrive at a place where you are content to live a quieter, simpler life.

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