Tokyo is many thing, but not a place I would wish to live in. If anything, the city has proved to me that my interest in Japan lies in its cultural roots, so I have come to appreciate my fortune in being able to live in Kyoto for a year so much more.
Since coming to Tokyo, I have explored cemeteries, perused street markets, watched astonishing firework displays, walked along rivers and seen $100 fruit, visited onsens and sentous, rode ferris wheels and roller coasters, visited shrines and temples and classical parks, gone to a zoo at night, tried out kendo, gone to bars for the first time, made silly purikura... I’ve also been on TV and met a person off of YouTube. In six weeks, I have experienced so much of Japan, and this is only the beginning.
Tokyo is an all-go-all-the-time city. Once you land, the action never ceases, if you are willing to open your door. The pace is wonderful for those that love the night-life and eagerly lap up the consumer culture. For me, Tokyo has been a nice pit-stop, and the push I needed to know for certain now that it is classical Japan that inspires me. Because of Tokyo, I have grown to truly look forward to and appreciate what it is that Kyoto will be able to offer me. There is no danger of my taking it for granted anymore.
I think that I have already matured a bit for living here, so far away from home, with so little to be able to count on. It has been a blessing to have Nicky here with me, of course, and to have gotten closer to Erin as well, but I have also come to realize that I am actually quite a sociable person. I like going out and doing things, and I like being spontaneous. I have also discovered that I am incredibly resourceful, and have dominion over my wayward emotions when stress comes my way. I no longer feel shy or timid in saying so.
In the end though, Tokyo has been the stepping stool into the real experience. It is a safe city for foreigners, where there is plenty of Americanization to fall back on, but it also has the drawback of being too much like a security blanket. I understand now why I was told in the past that for many foreigners, once they go to Tokyo, they never leave. It can be truly scary to move beyond one’s comfort zone, but, I think I am ready to take that leap.