IKEBUKURO, TOKYO, JAPAN
22nd March 2016
This morning is one that will stick out in my memory forever, I made a full post featuring pictures of Ikebukuro in a post around a year ago, you can find that here.
In the evening of the 21st I found out I wouldn’t be able to interview for my dream graduate job. I’d been shortlisted, but the interview took place whilst I was still in Japan as at this point I still had almost 3 weeks left in the country. I was pretty much told to not bother contacting them anymore as if I wasn’t in the UK at the time of interview, I was out. This was the first of MANY rejections I received when searching for a grad job, I got used to it pretty quickly, but this one stung.
I was good enough for interview. For an amazing position. But because I was completing one dream (travelling around Japan) I couldn’t access another (working in creative media in London). That night I drank whiskey, ate Japanese candy and sat in the Airbnb in Shibuya with Fae as we watched crappy anime and laughed about life.
The next morning I decided to treat myself to a really fucking expensive figurine I’d seen the day before. Back in my anime figure collecting days I had always wanted this figure, but it was super exclusive and super hard to get. To please 16 year old me I ventured out to go drop extortionate amounts of Yen on this thing which now sits on a shelf in my bedroom in my parent’s house 250 miles away from where I now live. Fae wasn’t feeling too good, so she rested whilst I went on an early morning romp around Tokyo.
We had only been in Tokyo a couple of days, and I’m sure anyone who’s been will tell you the culture shock you feel when you arrive. I’d never experienced standing out of a crowd so much, being a ginger white man who is taller than everyone somehow made me a target for everyone’s eyes at all times. I was asked for a photo one time, but that’s a different story.
I ventured on my own across the city, it was such a liberating experience. Japan was, and still is, the furthest I have travelled from home. To be alone in the middle of a city I had dreamed of visiting for about 15 years was an incredible experience. I stood in Ikebukuro and soaked it all in. Since watching Durarara! in 2010, I had been desperate to visit Ikebukuro, and then there I stood. All alone.
It turned out the store I wanted to go to opened at 10am, not 9 like I thought. I explored the streets, the rooftops, the gardens. I went everywhere in the area. A year on and I can still remember the routes of Ikebukuro perfectly, I know them better than I know many streets of London.
For as long as I remember I have yearned to see the world. It was a passive dream for a long time, I made no active moves to make it happen. Now I try to travel as much as I can. I’m pretty harsh on myself, if I’m not doing better than 100% I feel like a failure, it’s stupid and unhealthy and I’m working on it. But in that moment I felt like I had hit my peak, stood all alone in the middle of one of the world’s biggest and most famous city, the place I wanted to visit more than any other place on Earth.
I have so many incredible travel memories, however this moment feels like one of those turning points in my life, as cheesy as it is to say, it feels like that moment made me realise that I can achieve and accomplish anything I put my mind to.