Sandwiches! Four years ago today I packed up my life and moved to Tokyo! Best decision of my life.
I took an aerobics class this morning. I forgot they turn off the regular lights and put on disco lights at the end. Here I was, at 11am, a foreigner in Tokyo, dancing away with a room full of Japanese people yelling 'Yew!' and 'Yeah!'. Hah. Hilarious way to mark this anniversary.
The gym classes are always a good two-in-one deal. I get a workout and get a free Japanese lesson at the same time. I pride myself on being quite coordinated when it comes to dance after years of Physi and Latin American dance (and hey, I danced in the Sydney Olympic Opening Ceremony, you know ha ha) but oh dear, today I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, wobbling around like a crazy woman, awkwardly two beats behind everyone. You know when you see beginner dancers throwing their arms up in the air only to find that the rest of the class have already moved onto the next step (where the arms are NOT in the air) and their two little arms are the only ones sticking up. That was me! Gaijin represent! At one stage the entire class was facing me because I'd missed one of the '三拍子' (triple time) or whatever the instructor was rattling on about. 三拍子, by the way, sounded very much like the pronounciation for 'three seconds' which kind of had me confused. Three seconds - no, wait - three times! By the time I'd realised this, then they were all up to the second time and I was still holding for three seconds. Jeez. I had to laugh at myself. That's what happens when you decide to launch back into a fitness routine with the advanced class at Tipness. I've decided to blame it entirely on my less than perfect Japanese rather than admit that I've lost my touch when it comes to the moves on the dance floor.
Some say it takes hearing a new word three times before you remember it. I think I've finally got 'くりかえし' (repeat) after today. The first time I heard it, I was standing in a queue in a Shinjuku department store just before one of my workshops. An announcement came over the loud speaker 'We will soon have a workshop by the very popular blogger Hello Sandwich-san, くりかえし, we will soon have a workshop by the very popular blogger Hello Sandwich-san'. Ha, very popular, I wish! They will try anything to round up the masses! It always fascinates me the way Japanese words get stuck in your word bank.
I'm so happy to be living here.
Taking shoes off indoors, road workers who bow as you walk past, a friendly お疲れ様です(good job) said to you after you try on a dress, polka dot trucks, packaging that is aesthetically designed and also easy to open (WHY this is not the norm everywhere continues to baffle me), bleach in tiffany blue and pink bottles, being able to call up and select a re-delivery time for courier packages, Sekaido and Tokyu Hands and their endless craft supplies, nomihoudai parties, trains that come down-to-the-second on time and arrive at stations each with their own little melody, convenience stores that are actually convenient where you can do anything from send a package / pay bills / buy delicious food or even collect a package, points cards, walking home through smoky back alleys of six-seater yakitori bars, spotting men walk to the local sento with their little plastic basket of shampoo / body wash and towel, the pleasant smell of washing liquid running under the drains in Shimokitazawa, the almost curated display of Japanese books in Sanseido, shops that stay open later than 6pm and bars that stay open until 26:00, the orderly rush at Shinjuku station in peak hour, the polite nods from strangers who apologise in advance for squashing onto the train just when you are certain there is absolutely no more room (there is always more room), the glistening little red lights on the top of buildings, legal 'roadies' on cat street with friends, buses shaped like cartoon dogs, missing the last train and being able to walk home from Shibuya, making wishes at the shrine, the sweet smell of Miso soup cooking on a neighbours stove, the daily 5pm bell and it's variations in different neighbourhoods, oshibori, bike riding without helmets...gosh, and so much more.
Love you Japan!
Related post: My first day living in Tokyo.