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Saturday, November 21, 2015

life ...

Life moves pretty fast. 
 If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, 
you could miss it. 
... Ferris Bueller

Apartment life in Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan
for an expat fresh out of college
is exact, concise, and simple.

A bathroom designed such that you can reach the distance between the shower to the door. 
An entry way that allows for shoe storage, trash/recycle receptacles, a washer, 
leading past a kitchenette into the main living space.
A room just large enough for a microwave stand with storage, TV, coffee table/dinning table, bed/couch, chair, and storage closet.
Sufficient, exact, concise.

So much of what I observed of the Japanese culture was centered around efficiency and practicality.
Exact. Concise.
Students - other than pre-schoolers - wore uniforms regardless of where they attended school.  Men, by and large, wore black suits, white shirts, black ties.  Women wore practical shoes (with exception of the fashion district) accessorized perhaps with a designer purse, but rarely with any flashy jewelry.

Convenience stores were exactly that - convenient. 

with little price differentiation between them and the larger grocer.
And every other doorway seemed to flow into a restaurant/pub/diner.
Several times I wondered out loud if anyone ate dinner at home.

Several days of my visit were work days for Allyson, so I would joined her morning walk to school, picking up breakfast and snack for later in the day.
I would return past the elementary school in time to hear the children sing a morning song, careful not to pause too long and attract attention to myself.
I would keep with the flow of foot traffic of people making their way to the market or work and occasionally step aside to get a picture.

One morning a nice gentleman noticed me looking at the shrine located around the corner from Allyson's apartment.  He assured me it was okay to go in and look around and offered to take my picture. Truth be told, the last thing in the world I wanted was to have my picture taken, but there was no way I was going to decline such a kind gesture.  Somehow despite my complete ignorance of Japanese and his limited fluency in English - between the two of us, we managed this picture.

 Each evening as I sit in the entry to Allyson's building waiting for her return so we could embark on our evening adventure, I would simultaneously play Bejeweled on my cellphone (my feeble attempt to 'blend in' because EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE is into their cellphone), at the same time survey the people returning from their day. I looked forward to seeing one lady in particular, dressed in her traditional kimono with socks and wooden sandals, very determined in her journey, not the slightest self conscious about standing out. On several occasions I observed younger girls in their kimonos, obviously wanting to stand out; but this lady, and several other 'older' ladies, wore this beautiful garment not to attract attention but to keep tradition alive 
especially in this fast paced world.


  1. These are such wonderful looks into her life in Japan!

  2. Good for you to except that gentleman's offer to take your picture and even bigger good for you to share it with us.

  3. oooooh you are there, how wonderful. i am so glad you accepted that very kind man's gesture, it is so nice to see a picture of you!!!! and my kinda' place, no one eats at home!!!!!