Tokyo Memories: Where My Feet Have Been

IMG_1477

I recently spent a few weeks in Tokyo. The Mobile Team at Automattic had a meetup there and so I took the chance to explore a bit on my own before everyone else arrived.

Once I had arrived in Tokyo itself I made a horrible realization: ATM’s don’t take MasterCard. Or at least none of the ones within a 4 block radius of that train station did. It was only later I learned that VISA is the way to go when traveling in Japan, but that you should always carry cash. So I found myself stranded at a smaller train station in Tokyo in the middle of the night wandering up and down streets with my luggage in the pouring rain, trying to find an ATM that would work.

Eventually I managed to hail a cab that claimed to take my credit card. The next problem was the address, since I was going to an Airbnb home: in Japan streets usually don’t have names, and houses rarely have numbers.

Hand gestures, broken english, and off we went.

Upon arrival the card failed to work. In fact all my four mastercards failed to work. Until I tried swiping the card in the opposite direction.

Much rejoicing, happy Isaac, happy cab driver.

After hours of getting lost I arrived at the airbnb, where the next surprise awaited: no central heating. My room’s only heat source was a heat fan you can turn on for increments of time, and of course it was not turned on when I arrived. My first night in Tokyo I built a tent out of a mattress, a pillow, and a blanket, right in front of the fan to try and direct the air flow towards myself and make a first attempt at drying my clothes.

IMG_1485

Tokyo is an amazing city. My second time there, the fascination returned quickly. It’s truly inspiring being somewhere that, to a westerner, is a much different take on what a highly developed metropolis can be. It’s not all good. there’s a huge disconnect in between people. You never feel like you can just start talking to a stranger on the street, no matter the circumstances. Everyone seems to keep to their own. But there’s still, magically, a sense of community. This feeling that you’re all in it together. There’s respect and tolerance. You never feel threatened or looked down upon. People seem to genuinely care about others around them, even if they’re complete strangers, even if they would never talk to each other.

Face masks.

IMG_1117

I ended up wandering a lot the first few days. My colleague Jorge and his lovely girlfriend Esther arrived a few days later and Esther made sure I saw something note-worthy. We went to the temple and saw ice sculptures. Later we found an Irish pub and racked up a hefty bill. That was a good day.

Once the whole Mobile Team had arrived, the pace changed quite a bit. The team got together to work on a set of smaller projects. Some of us were feeling under the weather. Once I had a consistent fever I ended up staying in my room for a few days. Eventually I emerged, but with a lingering cough. So I got myself a face mask. It only seemed right.

Disappointment and Reinvigoration

Last year I vowed to blog more. My target was to blog more than I did the previous year. In reality for 2013 I would have had to blog more than once per month to reach that goal. Not that far-fetched it would seem.

Disappointment

Except it was. In 2013 I published a mere 10 blog posts in total, mostly due to a long stretch of no posts published at all. I can blame work, I was seriously busy those months, but at the end of the day it’s not an excuse. I had plenty of time in between to play games and do other random things, I could’ve spent an hour here and there to write a post. Even if it would be about something silly, even if it would be short.

Every new year means another chance to redeem yourself. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the past and dream about the future. Resolutions aside, it’s good to be able to stop and think about where you’re heading. What you hope to do. What you need to do. What your future looks like.

Reinvigoration

I will post more than 50 posts in total during 2014. I will move somewhere I like. I will find a charity I want to promote and donate to.

I will not become a better person, I will simply be more true to who I actually am.

All I can do is be me, whoever that is.
Bob Dylan

All I can do is be me, whoever that is -- Bob Dylan