East Japan- Contrasts everywhere!

Let´s talk about expectations. Everybody probably has some, I guess?!

About the next day.
About the new album of Clueso.
About life
and oneself.

-But how about the expectation of places? I thought about this for the last days. My conclusion and agony is that actually nobody can be blamed if something doesn´t occur as hoped for but oneself.

When it comes to Japan I expected it to be different. Different from the cultures I got to know during the last years; different regarding food and eating customs. Different in the way of intersocial behaviours. Quite a burden- to encounter difference. After the first days in Japan, I am kind of ambivalent and overwhelmed about the new experiences and must admit that my preparation was poor.

Arriving in Tokyo, everything felt big and busy. The enormous buildings, the wide streets, the extended metro map and the large distances. Arriving in the hotel (Ikebukuro, Sakura hotel, 22 €/night), I found our room to be comparably tiny,  15 qm²- shared with 4 other girls.

The next day, we went to the government monument building to enjoy the great view about big, big Tokyo (for free).
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An elderly japanease took this picture- looking completely helpless and doing series of 400 pictures- after the third try it was just funny not being able to comunicate.

Adelia met  Yuma, an osakan, who just moved to Tokyo and spontaneously joined us on our sightseeing tour, such an open guy I thought to myself, lucky us that we met him! We visited the Yoyogi park, the Mejij shrine and Shibuya and it was always quite crowded in the streets but well-organized and calm and very save! Observing the citizens going their daily routine without watching me in the “ah a tourist”-way relaxed somehow as I felt like everything´s going its normal way.
In big contrast to Indonesia, nobody really shows interest in you by watching you ( eye contact is very seldom) or just talk to you out of nowhere. This reminded me of the experiences some of my friends told me after spending their first weeks in Germany- that people seamed uninterested and I laughed about myself: only here in Japan I truly understand the feeling of being “invisible” to others. A good example of this feeling for me is also that only few japanease are speaking English with you from the beginning. More likely you spend the first 2 (invisible)  minutes of a conversation listening to japanease and agreeing with “hai” (yes in japanease, no is not an option!) before you really start communicating to each other by your counterpart swiching to English  (actually often a quite good English but due to the shyness and the pursue of perfection it seams hard to start with a shaking pronounciation right away). I remembered Yuma with his open appearance  and again thought about the contrasts that I experienced so far.
The next day it was fish market-time! Tokyo has the biggest fishmarket halls in the world and we were there- unfortunately a little late at about 12pm and most of the halls were empty already. But that was okay as we already ate Sushi for the last 3 days… like addicts:oP so we skipped that day´s Sushi plans for the dinner! We continued our trip to the quarter of Chiyoda and found very traditional monuments right next to the state-of-the-art facades of Tokyios skyscrapers.
Then, after five days in Tokyo our railpass-time started. For 7 days and 260€ we are able to use many of the train connections throughout the whole country. We took the Shinkanzen for the first time, the famous super-express train and headed for Nikko up north. Staying in the Park Lodge Mountain view ( very recommendable!, about 30 €/night), we walked a trail about 3 hours from the waterfalls Ryuzu to Lake Yunoko and a public onsen (Senjogahara trail), and took a bath in the water of a natural hot spring.- just the right reward after that much walking! Especially at the temperature of maybe 15 degrees.
Here some impressions of Nikkos Tosho-gu temple:
Heading up north to Hokkaido/Hakodate, we even had temperatures of 10 degrees- why did we decide to go up north??, we asked ourselves after putting on all the warm clothes we have in our backpack, shaking, under 2 blankets. The wheather, the falling leaves and the light reminded me very much of home and I got a little homesick and sad for the first time. Especially also the changing wheather circumstances, the clash between metropole and countryside make it still hard to remember what the hell I was expecting to find here and I am disappointed about thinking in stereotypes sometimes. Eather way my expectations where so much exceeded and I still cannot capture all the feelings.
My conclusion about unfullfilled expectations is this: as long as others mainly influence these expectations, the disappointment if something fails seams bearable- for me it gets difficult if I play the only active part in the desired circumstance and something cannot be realized for example due to a bad preparation. Maybe this is why it was a challenge during the last days to deal with all the unexpected impressions.
… So for now I hope that I’ll be forgiven for my fauxpas by the japanease- I keep on learning and with the first experiences I feel more motivated now to get to know the rest of Japan:o)

In the next days we are heading towards Tokyo again to Kamakura, tha remaining area with mainly buddistic influences at the beach before we visit the Fuji and start our first of two jobs here in Japan.

Stay inspired by our journey!

Mella

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