Friday, May 23, 2014

Tokyo Mornings

Tokyo surprisingly sleeps in very late, and very little is open before 10-11am. A few bakeries, convenience stores and coffee chains like Starbucks and Doutor have an early start, but the rest is lagging. Even so-called 'breakfast' spots and the ubiquitous pancake restaurants open at 11:00, which completely misses the point. Most gyms don't open until 10, unless it's a 24-hour kind.

It never really bothers me unless I have some kind of technological emergency (phone or computer-related), or if I need to run errands for work-related functions. A few days ago, I found myself in Shibuya at 9am, with two of those emergencies, and obviously nothing was open. I just wandered around, and had a doughnut at Krispy Kreme. I saw many people lining up for pachinko parlours, which all open at 10. They even get numbers in line, and as soon as the doors open they all rush in to try their luck at the machines. This is a bit of a sad scene. I did however get an outstanding customer service experience at the Apple store, and love them even more for this warranty I didn't even know existed.

I hope Tokyo shops and cafes start opening a bit earlier, especially as the flow of visitors is constantly increasing. On the other hand, everything stays open quite late, which fits the usual Japanese work schedule and late finish times.

In other news, I wandered around the Korean Embassy in Azabu and found a great little Korean shop across the street with a tasty selection of kimchi and all the side dishes whose names I cannot remember because it's been so long (and I never knew more than a hundred words in Korean).

I think about Korea a lot lately, maybe because it's been in the news so much lately with the ferry disaster, and I look back at my time there. It was such a long time ago, and I wish I had made the most of my time there. I was quite culture shocked the whole year I lived there, a bit similar to what's happening to me at the moment in Japan, as I haven't gone home in so long.

Japan, do I need to leave you to love you more? Is that how it works?

Queuing up for pachinko

9am Krispy Kreme, nice.


Anonymous said...

Its not about leaving in order to learn to love Japan more its more about leaving to realize how wonderful it is. At least that's what happened to me. I was so fed up with Japan, the way it works and being a foreigner that I had to leave in order to appreciate it. I returned to Canada only to find myself feeling more like an outsider than I ever did in Japan. Now that I've been away, I realize the importance of what I left behind.

Tanya Geddes said...

Do you mean you will feel culture shocked by going back home to Canada?

I didn't gel with Korea but found Japan easier culturally. Looking back, I recognise the culture was hard in Korea but the people were warmer. The opposite case happened in Japan. No place is perfect. Each place has its own pluses and minuses. The more you focus on the positive the easier it is to live there. However, depending on what stage of your life you are in, the things that are positive in one country might not appeal at that stage.

I loved Japan but certain aspects of the culture were tricky. I think it's tougher on female foreigners (hence fewer foreign women compared to men). But the fact you and so many women are still in Japan is inspirational to see.

Tanya Geddes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vivian said...

Hi Tanya,

You make some great points about both cultures (Korea and Japan), and I completely agree! Japan is much, much easier to deal with.

I think right now I'm just having a rough time in Japan, I think my honeymoon phase is over and I need to get out for a little bit, every little thing irritates me… Sigh. But it'll get better after my trip I think.

Vivian said...


Indeed, the grass is always greener. Now I envision Canada being so amazing, but I know once I get there I'll be reminded of why I left, and I'll miss Japan. I remember how much of an outsider I felt in Canada after leaving Korea after one year, it was rough. I can't imagine how you feel now!
Not sure I want to leave for good, but I need a vacation from it. I think it'd be hard to leave Japan for good. Do you plan on coming back?

Anonymous said...

I felt like an outsider when I returned to the UK after Korea too. I was desperate to leave again. But after a while I settled into London life (but then I left again haha!). I think I always remember the good things about places after I leave and forget how irritating it can be to live anywhere (the UK, Asia or anywhere can be annoying at times!) But maybe you do need a break from Japan. I think one of the hard things about living in an Asian country is that you will never be Japanese or Korean and never have a say in what goes on there. It can be frustrating after a while. But I think going to Canada will be a good break for you and your thoughts on Japan might be more refreshed :-) x

Anonymous said...

PS I wish wordpress would let my name come up instead of my blog when I comment- it seems so rude! - Joella :-)

Malice said...

I agree with the breakfast aspect! So many times I wanted ti have breakfast somewhere and alas no. So i would end up at a lawson or such. I hope it gets easier, everywhere has its faults. I would love to live in Japan one day but alas I do not have a Degree...

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