This Writer Gal

Kakul Ehsan Butt

Return to Japan

Being back in Japan was like returning to an unfinished book and picking up from where I had left. And just like that, I fell into the next chapter with ease. Last time, I was a wide-eyed tourist, experiencing a massive culture shock. I wondered if this novelty would wear out during my second visit, but was relieved it didn’t. Tokyo still fascinated me, even when retracing old steps. Watching the cat come out of the 3D billboard in Shinjuku, meowing into the microphone assured me that Tokyo will never be done entertaining its returnees.  

I split my time between Tokyo and Kyoto, with day trips to Osaka and Hiroshima. I mostly steered clear of tourist hotspots, choosing quieter alternatives. Unlike my first trip, I decided not to go with tour groups, choosing a much leisurely pace to explore Japan. I loved getting lost and discovering places that were largely untouched by tourism.

I took lots of photos of random streets and vending machines. Yes, vending machines. The country’s obsessed with vending machines, and I am now too. I enjoyed shopping and as a result, had to purchase another (small) suitcase. I spent a lot of time view-gazing. I don’t know if this is an age thing, or just Japan thing, but I couldn’t get enough of Tokyo’s skyline. My hotel room had a view that would become my nightly ritual of gazing and eating delicious snacks. And when I wasn’t sat by the windowsill, I was in bed, staring at the view until I fell asleep.

Has the story ended? The book feels unfinished. There is still so much left to explore, such as quiet villages that can offer respite from the bright city lights. The other day, I was reading Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa and learned about the bookseller district in Tokyo that sells vintage books. I regret not visiting this place, but I suppose I can leave this for the next trip, whenever that may be.

         

      

           

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