What Happens When an Asian-American is Plopped Into Asia, Part 4: Japan

 

During winter break, the last leg of my three-week Asia trip would be none other than the famous, the glamorous, Tokyo, Japan. However, even before I jetted off to my fourth and final country, I would have to deal with some unforeseen circumstances.

 

My boyfriend and I arrived at the Malaysian airport about an hour before our flight to Tokyo -- slightly stressed and sweaty after crawling through the sweltering, congested streets of Kuala Lumpur in a taxi, but otherwise okay and ready to head off to our next destination. That is, until we approached the baggage check-in counter and were told we couldn’t check our bags because the boarding gates had already closed. Mouths agape, we discovered we would have to miss our scheduled flight and book a new one for either later that night or the next day. After weighing our options we decided to take the flight that night, eight hours later. What followed was the two of us sitting at an outdoor table beside the airport McDonald’s, munching on snacks we had bought from the airport convenience stores with the remains of our Malaysian money.

 

Around 9pm we finally boarded our flight, settling in for an eight-hour ride to Tokyo.

The flight was not as restful as I had hoped it would be; sleeping restfully on planes has never been an easy thing for me. By the time we arrived in Tokyo, I was beat and ended up dozing on the many subway rides we took to get from the airport to our Airbnb. Thankfully, the cold air -- a welcome change from the sweltering heat of our previous two countries -- was like a much-needed slap to my senses, and the rest of the day was spent catching up with our group of friends and exploring Tokyo.

 

 

As this was my second time visiting Tokyo since last year, I was able to see the city with fresh eyes. The streets of Shibuya were vibrant and colorful. The temples and shrines serene and far removed from the bustling energy of the rest of the city. For the few days that I was there, my senses were reminded of what it was like to be in Tokyo and were also brought to experience many new things. From the savory sushi I sampled at Toyosu Fish Market, to the breathtaking holographic art I viewed at the Digital Art Museum by Teamlab Borderless, to the ramen I slurped in peaceful isolation at Ichiran (a restaurant famous for catering to introverts with dividing walls between customers and minimal interaction with waiters), I treated my senses to many new experiences. Arguably my favorite part of the trip was the last day, when my boyfriend and I took a nighttime stroll around Asakusa (the neighborhood we were staying in), exploring and soaking in the atmosphere of the shops, restaurants, and streets.

 

 

You see, while my Asia trip took up the bulk of my energy, my sweat, and even my (unshed) tears, it also created within me an unquenchable desire for more of the world. Not every part of my trip meant being relaxed and carefree; on the contrary, much of it was a learning process from which I experienced new cultures and languages and was pushed or pulled out of my comfort zone multiple times.

I know I would not trade these experiences for anything else in the world. Until next time, when I can embark on my next adventure, I hold these memories dear in my mind and heart.