So, not loving Tokyo. I feel like there's something I'm missing, like the whole city has just told a joke and I don't get the punch line. It's hard to know where to go. What restaurants to venture into, what stores are worth checking out. What metro platform you're meant to be on, or what exit to leave by.
It's exhausting, all of the not knowing. I don't know what the waitresses are babbling to Zee about, and it irks that they constantly defer to Zee instead of me because of his gender. I don't think I've talked to anyone but Zee in the last three days, bar one English speaking tour guide. The metro station officers don't even say anything, they just point and gesture, waiting for me to nod and utter a quiet 'arigato gozai-mas'. It's a toss up whether the dish I've ordered will be sushi or noodles. Today it was some kind of cook your own pancake deal. I'm not even kidding. I got some batter and a jug of cabbage mixed with little tiny shrimps in it and the waitress literally took the utensils from my hands to show me how I was meant to cook it. I'm pretty sure I ate it wrong or something too.
It's not easy, and it's not warm (where before I delighted in the much cooler, less humid atmosphere, I'd rather be warm I think). It's raining and after weeks of New Zealand and Thailand warmth, wearing layers is uncomfortable. I feel small and ignorant. Gajian, is what they call us. I can see why, all of the lost little tourists with big eyes, helpless looks. Where are we meant to go? How do we get there? What are meant to do? We're annoying, and exhaustive, and need to be slowly walked through all of the things. Worse, it turns out that most tourists here speak Japanese, and everything is set up for them. Us non-Japanese speaking folk are left to struggle and figure it out as we go.
Tokyo, frankly, is a bit of an enigma.
Still, we're making the best of it. Today was another touristy day. We got approached by a guy on the side of the road wearing a little bamboo hat and was convinced into doing a tour in the back of his little man powered rickshaw. I kind of wanted to hug him when he spoke to us in English. There is something to be said about the comfort of the familiar.
Being pulled around in a rickshaw was kind of charming but also a little awkward (seriously, I regretted the Starbucks cake I'd had for breakfast, wondering if the extra calories meant more work for him). He spoke fairly good english and gave us a quick run down on the area, showing us old Samurai Barracks, and telling us stories about all the little lanes. He'd stop and park us up at ideal viewing spots before turning around to talk to us. Very sweet and I'm glad we stopped to listen to him instead of brushing him aside like we typically would.
Afterwards we visited the Sensō-ji Shrine. It's an ancient Buddhist temple, one of the oldest temples in Tokyo. Seriously. It was founded in 645 (woah buddy). Now, the tricky thing was that while we knew we should go here and visit, once we got here there was no way to know what we were looking at. It was very big, and very pretty and it was hella crowded. As far as I was aware, the incense/blessing fire was very warm, the shrine was very gold and the temple lantern was very very big. It wasn't until after when we checked out Wikipedia that we understood the significance of what we were looking at.
Side note: the little market into the shrine (Nakamise-dōri) was amazing! Loads of great stuff and we spent an inordinate amount of time poking around the market. Zee at funny little dough bean chocolate things. I bought pretty prints and eyed up the little Japanese tea sets.
I'm finding Tokyo to be really quite difficult. I'm trying to embrace it, because I get that it all stems from everything being completely unfamiliar and different. I'm not doing very well, and have been impatient and grumpy (poor Zee). Ah well.
Have any of you been completely out of your comfort zone, somewhere where everything is absofuckinglutely different, in almost every capacity?