Japan Diaries: Landing in Akihabara

Wednesday, October 2, 2019
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Japan Diaries: Akihabara Tokyo, Japan. Visited January 2019.

I walked along the streets lined with narrow buildings lit up brightly and loudly from floor to sky. Akihabara looks stunning. I hear cheerful Japanese jingles from every store, enticing tourists like me to squeeze into the cramp aisles. The shop windows are glowing.  I tried to take in everything. Locals carrying plastic bags with their cute nick nacks, showing them off to friends who gasp "Kawaii!" in the cutest voices. I'm far from home.

Hai and I noticed locals hanging around a Takoyaki store. Standing inside was a man skillfully turning the batter around until it formed a crispy ball of squid and gooey dough. The cashier greets us and with one look at Hai we bought a tray of steaming takoyaki balls. And that became my very first hot meal in Japan. 

We stayed at Super Hotel in a small but neat room that could barely fit our suitcases. To get to my clothes I had to lay our suitcase on the bed, conscious that snow was still wedged into the wheels. Above the bed was a small window facing the bright neon lights of sleepless city of Akhihabara. I liked to stare out of it.

Sitting on the bed, I told myself that I was a brave bitch. The night before I had tossed and turned in bed fearing turbulence, bad weather and the loss of control I'll face. My crippling fear of flying does not stop me from traveling, but everyone has their own personal demons to face. 
When I was 21, I quit my job to travel for three months. It was an insane feeling. I visited Cambodia, Vietnam, France, Belgium, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. 
Paris left a tattoo on my heart. I had spent seven weeks there. I even sent postcards home and received postcards back. My loved ones missed me. On my 22nd birthday I flew alone back to Sydney, celebrating my birthday over the sea. It changed my life.

Ten years later I boarded a plane to Tokyo for our honeymoon. In times of turbulence, Hai held my hand tightly. I refused to take off my headphones. The seat next to me was empty, so I shut my eyes and tried to think about a second person, holding my other hand smiling at me with a familiar reassurance. Holding onto that thought eventually calmed me.

Hai had finished his shower and bought me back from my day dreaming. He pulls out some yen.
Like little kids we wondered over to the 7/11. It didn't matter that the cold wind slapped my face. 
He held the cash and I held the shopping basket. I filled it with onigiri, snacks and warm drinks, bowing at each store attendant when they bowed at me. Hai did not stop me from buying anything. Hai reminded me to thank everyone with "Arigato".

We spent the next three days here exploring. And on the second day, Akihabara closed off the roads and we were free to roam around for the Movie Festival. I stood in the middle of the street to take in how colorful this part of Tokyo was. I closed my eyes and thought about when I walked out of the Parisian train station and saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time.
 I felt another tattoo being etched onto my heart. I fell in love with Japan.

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