Today was the first day since Christmas where I did not have something to see, somewhere to go, or anything to do. The hum of the heater has replaced the drone of aircraft; the distant squeal of the Jersey City lightrail turning the corner has replaced the rushing sound of the JR Yamanote line.
Piled across the kitchen counter are the things we brought back – cute dolls, strange snacks, and a pile of CDs. Our suitcases remain nearby, still mostly full of our clothing and charging cords. They will be unpacked in due time. The fridge has been refilled, the laundry is slowly getting done, and I am mysteriously not jetlagged even in the slightest.
I will not return to work until Wednesday, and while I’m starting to respond to work emails again, for now, I sit contently.
I have spent over five days in a place that was foreign yet welcoming, busy yet quiet, energetic yet polite.
I have walked through neighborhoods I never thought I would set foot in, wandered without purpose in pedestrian malls, and blended into crowded trains and stores.
I have inhaled the cloud of smoke in pachinko parlors, downed sake and shochu, seen some really weird things on TV, and inadvertently walked into the adult section of more than one anime store in Akihabara.
And yet it still feels like there is more to do. Even with another week, another month, I wouldn’t have been able to see it all. So we will continue working on our Japanese, keep our eyes peeled for new things to see when we are there, and start plotting for the next trip.
I can’t wait.
(Very special thanks to all of you who left comments, suggestions, questions, and encouragement on my blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook over the last week. It felt like you were there with us.)