Illogical Obsessions

(or ‘Love Affair with Japan Part 1’)

It is no secret I am in love with Japan. Ever since I went there for an exchange program in 2006, Japan has always been in the back of my mind, in the depths of my heart. I thought it was just a childish dream, so I threw my attention to studying. Becoming at actor. Back then, I wanted to be a musical theatre performer. I planned to take the Junior College – Theatre Studies – NUS route.

But of course, time changes the course of things. God opened doors at the perfect times. So I began the Acting course at LASALLE. In first year, I was exposed to Noh theatre. Something stirred in my heart. A dormant feeling I thought I had long lost… Then I met Yagnya, then I was exposed to Japanese art and aesthetics, then I discovered Suzuki’s Method of Actor’s Training, then I watched TNS’ Mobile 2: Flat Cities…

And I realized I might have left my heart in Japan in 2006 after all.

This is my first trip overseas alone. I needed to go. It was something I had to do. I wanted to see if I really left my heart in Japan.

Pictures taken with my iPhone 5. I didn’t bring my Lumix on this trip.

When I got off the plane, it was early in the morning, about 9AM. I couldn’t believe my eyes. That was my first feeling.

“Shit. I’m really here.”

Hooooooooooooooomaigad.

IMG_9391

Japan was everything I imagined it would be. Beautiful. The streets, the lack of dustbins, the bicycles… I found my heart just where I left it.

It felt right. This road was somewhere near my hostel. I checked in and took a walk around the streets.

This was the road opposite my hostel. If you walk a little further and made a left, there would be a public bath, where you could take a bath and soak in 40 degree C water. BEST THING EVER IN AUTUMN/WINTER. The temperature would be about 14-17 degrees, so it was cold but bearable.

When you come out of the sento you will feel SO TOASTY WARM it’s completely alright to walk around in the cold!

Yadoya Guesthouse
Yadoya Guesthouse

This is the view of my hostel, taken from the 7-11 across the road. I spent about SGD$300 on accommodation for 9 nights in Tokyo. The staff were really friendly and it was a nice, clean hostel. It was small (I was in the 8 bunk room), but cosy and enough for me.

Keep in mind I’m short and enjoy sleeping in small tight spaces. Check them out here if you’re interested! I met loads of backpackers, travelers, and locals there and it was a fantastic experience.

My view going down the stairs.
My view going down the stairs.

To the left would be the kitchen/common area, and the right was the back door opened by a keycard. I didn’t do much on my first day, mainly because I slept for about 2 hours on the flight. So I lazed around, ate food from 7-11 and slept in.

The next day, I met Shoichi. I first met him through Yagnya when I watched a performance he was involved in – The Necessary Stage’s Mobile 2:Flat Cities. I chatted with the cast after being introduced by Iggy after the show. How things just fall into place…

Anyway, I owe Shoichi my Japan trip because he introduced me to a lot of Japanese theatre (I didn’t plan. That’s a terrible idea. Always plan.) and as luck God would have it, I was there during F/T 2013, a theatre festival.

First legit meal
First legit meal

Menus are hard to read when there are no pictures. 😦 I had to have the menu read out to me like a child. -sigh- But my Japanese is much better now compared to then, so who knows? This is tempura cold soba. Then I discover…. THE PORTIONS ARE HUGE. And it is considered rude not to finish your food.

But the soba was fantastic. Ugh, typing this makes me miss Japan. I want soba now. You’re supposed to slurp up the noodles but I was extremely unskilled in noodle-slurping.

Anyway, we met up to watch a theatre performance called “No More Winds Blow” /「もう風が吹かない」by a company called Seinendan (青年団) in Kichijoji. We took the train from Nakano (it’s apparently just 2 stops) but we took the wrong train (Express instead of Local, so it skips stops) but made it in time for the performance.

That was my first theatre experience in Japan. Entirely in Japanese. I understood bits and pieces of it, but still had to have a short translation afterwards. Better to clarify, right? The performance ended about 5PM and it was getting dark out, so we had time to kill before dinner.

Kichijoji is really cool.

Then this happened.
Then this happened.

So I had to do something somewhat touristy, so CAT CAFE!

1000-2000 yen per hour.  I don't remember...
1000-2000 yen per hour.
I don’t remember…

So you just sit there and get surrounded by the cats. They were really pretty, but being cats they didn’t give two hoots about you. But CAAAAAT.

Until the food came out, of course. Then they all became friendly and happy. Then they wouldn’t run away when you want to stroke them. ^_^

Then, dinner time. Decision-making for food has to be one of the most difficult things in life, no matter which country you’re in. We walked around for some time before…

Very Japanese bar, like the kind I read in Murakami!
Very Japanese bar, like the kind I read in Murakami!

Yay for being unable to read the menu!! Kanji I somewhat can read. Then you write the menu in cursive Japanese. COME ON. T_T No, really. But it was delicious, whatever it was lol. See that bowl next to the beer?

MUSHROOMS.

If you know me, I don’t eat mushrooms. I never liked mushrooms. I spat mushrooms out in Kindergarten. I ate all the mushrooms. Japan, this is how much I love you. I eat mushrooms for you.

IMG_9501

Interior
Interior

WOW MY FIRST IZAKAYA.

JUST LIKE THE BOOKS.

Sashimi.
Sashimi.
Mozoku モゾク
Mozoku モゾク

This has to be one of the “WTH” things I consumed. It is… mozoku seaweed. The white stuff was tororo and it is sitting in a slippery lemon juice. But why.

I guess I would eat it over rice, but on it’s own it was really sour and slimy.. Acquired taste, like natto I guess? Maybe Yagnya-baabaa would love it hehe.

Eggplant + Miso Paste
Eggplant + Miso Paste

I burnt my tongue trying to eat this! It was really hot. It’s an eggplant, baked (it seemed baked) with miso paste and sesame seeds.

The skin makes it hard to eat. It was good, but it would have been wise to wait for it to cool down. -whistle whistle-

Chazuke (?)
Ochazuke

Rice and tea and seaweed! Can’t go wrong with that! All the things I love in one convenient bowl! Katanashi in Singapore serves it, too!

"NO IDEA WHAT THIS IS CALLED"!
“NIKUJAGA”!

FIRST NIKUJAGA! WAO COMFORTFOOD.

After dinner, we went to a cafe to sit down and plan my theatre experience for the rest of my trip.

I don’t know what I did to deserve the fortune of this tour guide but THANK GOD for Yagnya for introducing me to Shoichi because WHO DOES THIS KIND OF THING??

I had this feeling he wanted to facepalm and kill me for not planning what I want to watch beforehand from the amount he was smoking then but if you see this,  將一さん、本当にありがとうございました!

I owe you.

The person I owe the trip to. T_T
The person I owe the trip to. T_T

So then, the butoh performance and Festival Tokyo performance was booked that night. So thankful…

This concludes Part 1 of my Japan trip. Which was actually just 2 days… But writing this helps me remember. It seems like a long time ago, but the memories I’m living now are fresh.

My heart is still there, in Japan. Writing this makes me want to cry, I think, because I am far away from my heart. It’s illogical and unexplainable why I should be there. I don’t know either. But I think this is the leap that I have to take.

I trust God will open the doors that needs to be opened.

Part 2 next time! Hope you enjoyed reading my obsessive post. x S

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