Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tokyo Nights

Living and working in metropolitan Tokyo, this would be your typical view at night - tall buildings blinking with yellow and white lights that pierce and electrify the inky darkness. The city is always alive - crawling and pulsing with energy, bustling with people in the crowded train stations.

I came across this photo from about three years ago, taken by my friend a few months before I first arrived in Japan. The bright green, glowing sunlight.. almost seems like a distant fairytale. Not that I've never experienced warm sunlight and soft greenery in Japan, because there are those rare places and days that *almost* come close to that feeling, and yet - California's warmth and green is just different. I can almost smell and taste the sunbeams, and they are different. They are filled with a nostalgic sense of slowed-down time and casual hellos, pearl milk teas at Asian shopping centers, wide stretching parks and light blue skies, middle and high school years, family. Yes, those things make a world of difference within California's sunshine.

But then, so is Tokyo different, extremely unique with its energy and vitality, its colorful onward march of life that even earthquakes could not set a pause to. The artificial lights twinkle and grin from rows upon rows of windows, huge screens splashed with television ads, sugary techno-pop music ringing out from one street and traditional Japanese instruments twanging out from a basement izakaya restaurant. After living here for two and a half years, it is still impossible for me to take in all the details at once, for there are so many. Still impossible not to find surprises everywhere.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The start of something new.

A lunchtime walk in the sun. One of those rare days when you deviate from the usual pattern of cafes and restaurants, look up at the blue sky with wisps of clouds drifting by, and decide, "Yes, today I would like to soak in some vitamin D." Altogether a warm and healthy option, after grabbing a few conbini onigiri and strolling for most of the lunch hour. I even found an escape from the jungle of office buildings - a wide river undulating with currents as the occasional boat rumbled by, trees fluttering their spring green leaves softly in the wind. The juxtaposition of nature and city still never ceases to astound me, or at least happily confuse me - "Wait, real nature still -does- exist here!" And it really does, popping up unexpectedly like weeds in a garden, happy dandelions on a sun-baked, late spring day such as this one. Of course, by evening, the skies greyed over and expelled light rain combined with flashes of lightning and cracking thunder. Which all suddenly stopped later on.

Today, I also tried dragon fruit for the first time. Found it at hangaku, or half-price, at the grocery store, and decided it was too good a chance to pass up. 200 yen for a single bright pink fruit, which I discovered grows hanging from very tropical-looking trees. Does this particular fruit miss its home, somewhere on an island where the weather is always as sunny as this afternoon was? Does it miss swaying in the island breeze on its mother tree, while sitting in the plastic carton which cradles it at the grocery store? Did it feel offended by the hangaku sticker? The inner meat of the dragon fruit was an interesting texture, a mix of kiwi (the black seeds) and nagaimo/daikon (the white crispiness and slight sliminess). The taste was very light, with patches of sweet-sourness here and there. It was worth a try, but perhaps it won't become a favorite. Thank you for your nourishment, dragon fruit.