Written & Photographed April 2015, Edited August 18, 2018
It was a chaotic month, to say the least. It all rushed by so quickly, I hardly had time to experience it, let alone comprehend it. Memories flash through my mind, like a strong wind speedily flipping through the pages of a forgotten book:
Sitting in a real estate office, staring at lists of homes… here and there, the odd row marked to indicate that a non-Japanese tenant would be acceptable.
Walking through a supposedly pricey neighbourhood, only to find an old, dank, first-floor apartment strewn with filth and devoid of natural light, like something out of a Japanese horror movie.
A close call with homelessness… dragging my luggage from Chiba to a new and already dear friend’s home in northern Tokyo, feeling thankful to have met someone so understanding; thankful for the futon spread out on his office floor.
A one-room apartment, less than twenty square meters, in a place I’d never heard of; a place called Ikebukuro… making hurried choices; ignorantly signing an endless slew of paperwork covered with characters that were almost entirely unreadable.
For all I knew, I could have been signing my life away. I guess I wasn’t as prepared as I had thought.
All in all, the majority of this sounds quite negative. There’s no denying it. But it’s these troubled times that allow the brighter aspects of one’s life to shine that much more brightly. I’d made a choice to leave the comfort and security of my mediocre life. I’d come to Japan for a new experience with, upon hindsight, little-to-no real planning.
After all, for every choice, there are consequences. The bigger the choice, the bigger the consequences. Such is life. But I’m not that cool and I’m not that tough. I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone. As such, I’m thankful for my few friends and family, for without them, I would be lost.
Feeble companies reaching out, trying to drag lost souls down into the depths of a dying industry… Treading the darker streets of Shinjuku, feeling despondent after a “job” interview.
Receiving the passcode for my new dwellings, only to drop my luggage off and immediately set out on what would quickly turn out to be an entirely unsuccessful search for a suitable bed.
And, eventually, slowing down to meet a faithful friend to explore the gorgeous sights of Ueno Park and Ochanomizu on foot.