Down a little lane, tucked away from the busy crowds of Tokyo I could hear a thin wave of music. Something unfamiliar but yet familiar enough to make me want to hear more. These sounds were weaving their way through the air with a mysterious aura, almost like a saw bending over and over producing emotional vibes that speak ones’ heart to the world with all her worries and joys. It is Japanese traditional music that I am hearing on my second day in Tokyo coming from a little house down the lane. A nostalgic yet beautiful type of music that evaporates into the blackness of the night in this quiet Japanese residential area. This lovely area is full of little intertwined streets with lovely Japanese-style houses which lead to crafty local shops, Japanese restaurants and street markets. These streets with their lovely houses come alive at night, almost like out of an anime scene …in the silence of the night one of the houses down the lane looks very much like the one portrayed in Studio Ghibli’s ‘The Cat Returns’ movie.
The gentle breeze reassures me that I am in a wonderful place. How unreal I still feel now that I am in Japan, after years and years of dreaming of this land? It still doesn’t feel real…I probably need a few more days to ‘wake up’. Just like to wind roaming around the city carelessly I feel light, I feel the world like I have never felt it before. I feel foreign but at home in the same time. What a strange pleasantry…
I’ve spent my first night, after hours and hours of flight and waiting in airports, in a manga kissa (like all good Japanese people do). Manga kissa is like a 24 hours internet café where people can book their own little booth (just big enough to stretch those tired legs) with a computer, loads of manga all over the place, loads of free drinks (they have a pretty wicked selection of teas and even soups) and you can also have a shower for a small additional fee. It’s one of the cheapest way of ‘accommodation’ in Tokyo and from what I heard some people actually end up living in manga kissas since it’s cheaper than renting a place in Tokyo. I’ve spent 12 hours in that manga kissa and, for once, being small proved to be a good thing since I could stretch my legs on the floor covered with a comfy tatami and get some sleep.
It was an interesting experience…the kind that you can only have in Japan.
Omoshiroi desu ne.
I think the best way to explore the Japanese culture is to communicate and live with Japanese people. Therefore, I’m doing some couchsurfing for the next few days. My current host is so lovely and welcoming that I can’t help feeling at home in her flat. We shared dinner, beers and laughter on our first meeting.
As I lay down on the cosy futon she prepared for me on the living rooms’ floor I feel grateful to be able to experience what it is like to live in a Japanese flat. These flats are generally small and cute (even the crazy electronic toilets are cute). I have to admit I love sleeping on the floor…connecting my roots with this foreign land.