Journey to Japan and stuff awwww yiss

something or other

Writing & Photography by

Jeremy Hannigan

 
 

I couldn't sleep on the plane. Whether this was due to my excitement or the overall intense discomfort of flying, I could not say. Having departed Vancouver some eleven hours before, I was in dire need of both sleep, and an opportunity to stretch my legs.

Nonetheless, it was thrilling.

After twenty-some years spent living in the same corner of Canada, I had finally made the long-anticipated trip across the world. I had finally plunged into unknown cultural depths. I had finally come to Japan.

Upon landing, I felt no fatigue—despite my lack of rest—perhaps due to a combination of first-time-traveller’s-anxiety and the thrill of being in the land of samurai, anime and ramen—because isn’t that how most westerners view Japan?

After going through immigration (yikes), customs and collecting my luggage (of which there was quite a lot), I was met by my friend, Morihiro, whom I had first met in Canada. With his long black hair framing his smiling face, he was a welcome sight.

The sheer amount of men in drab black suits and girls in short skirts and heels was dizzying. Whilst on the train, I did my best to hunch over and peer out the window. I noticed a window decal advertising Perfume’s new “bru-lay." I chuckled to myself and thought, “Japan.”

An hour and a half or so later, Mori and I arrived in Fuda City, Chofu, and after consuming a quick bowl of tonkotsu ramen at a local shop, we retired for the night.

 

 

“The sheer amount of men in
drab black suits and girls in
short skirts
 and heels was dizzying.”

 

 

The next day was first spent exploring the simple, quiet scenery around Mori’s neighbourhood. The shrines were quaint, but beautiful.

As is to be expected, it was bustling with tourists. Even so, the shrine’s beauty was breathtaking; made all the more magical by the partially-bare trees, the bright, pale skies and the frosty, late winter air.

Afterward, we made our way to the reputable Meiji Grand Shrine by Harajuku and Yoyogi Park. Amidst the dense greenery, a giant wooden torii gate loomed over the massive path’s entrance, which snaked its way through the trees to one of Tokyo’s most gorgeous and sought after landmarks.

Just across the train tracks, in stark contrast contrast to the solemn earthy colours of the shrine, was Harajuku and the famed streets, Takeshita and Omotesando; ablaze with consumerist chaos and nauseating noise. It was incredible.

A trip to Shibuya followed, and I was not at all disappointed. Shibuya crossing, or "the Scramble" as it’s sometimes called, was just as intensely busy as I had expected it to be. The buildings rising around the bustling intersection danced and sang; writhed and screamed. Each urban giant was adorned with an array of dazzling colourful eyesores advertising for anything and everything, each noisier than the last, each competing for people’s attention.

There was a world of difference between Shibuya and Chofu, and indeed, Vancouver seems not just half a world—but rather several worlds away.

I had truly ventured into the unknown.

...oh, and there are vending machines absolutely everywhere.