17 settembre 2018. Primo giorno in Giappone.
Exactly one year ago, I was arriving at Narita Airport.
I still remember the journey.
Because of one of the many typhoons at the end of the summer, my stopover was extended by a few hours and my anxiety and fear of flying had skyrocketed.
I love traveling. But every time I get on a plane, I have that shiver down my spine that vanishes once I find my place and fastens my belt.
At that time I knew very well that I would not take a plane back for a while, and this consoled me, even if the greeting to my mother at home and my father at the airport had been challenging.
The reason that pushed me to get to Japan is mainly one: Yo.
We met during my “Study Trip” in the prefecture of Yamagata, we traveled together, we get close and perhaps in love right away. On Christmas I met his family and we immediately created a wonderful relationship. Then he came in Italy for 3 months, he met all my relatives during a chaotic and fun Easter lunch, and from then on, we realized that things could work for real.
And now here we are, a year in Japan, a ring on the finger and a future together.
I would describe the first days in Japan as pure chaos.
(Premise: it was my third time in Japan and I knew what I was going towards, but as always, living in a place is different from visiting it as a tourist.)
For a person arriving from Narita by train, equipped with luggage (in my case a quantity to cover 3 seasons) and jet-lag, arriving in Tokyo or Shinjuku Station does not exactly represent the ideal situation.
These are the places that should be avoided both in the morning and in the evening, mainly in the hours in which the Japanese go and leave work.
With my 3 heavyweight suitcases, one of which had broken wheels, we had to cross Shinjuku Station at 7pm. If I think about it now it makes me smile, a year ago I was almost crying.
From Narita to Nakano (where we will have slept) we spent about 2.30 H against 1.19 H suggested by Google Maps. more than half spent standing.
Arriving at the station, if I thought that the hardships were over that night, a surprise was still waiting for me: our room.
Without any acquaintances in Tokyo (Yo comes from the prefecture of Yamagata), we decided to stop temporarily in a share house, and from there, look for a small studio apartment to move to.
Yo had done the research, and apparently, he found an affordable and comfortable room. We started late with research and because of that we choose in a rush.
Definitely a mistake that will be useful again in the future: never rely on appearances!
The room of about 3×2 M consisted of a bed (single square), a mini desk and a mini wardrobe. Assuming that there were two of us, in total we had 4 suitcases and Yo is 1.88 cm tall, it was difficult at that time to have positive thoughts.
But because I am fortunate to have a very patient husband who knows how to change my bad mood, we just laugh a lot about that situation and once you put my bags in the room, we headed for Izakaya near home, spending our first night in Japan together with a Yakitori and a beer.
I lived in a big city (New York) once only, and for a short duration of 3 months. For the rest, I like to call myself a country girl. Arriving in Tokyo was like entering in a candy store: pure luxury!
Colors, lights, metro at every corner and every minute, all the shops you could want easy to reach, events, cafes, restaurants … I could go on and on.
How much I loved waking up in the early morning, having breakfast with Yo in the kitchen (shared with 4 other guys) with the usual slice of toast and the usual fried egg, and then go around the city without a destination.
At that time we saw the sad last day of Tsukiji Market, the crazy Halloween of Shibuya, the romantic Christmas of Ebisu and the colorful Hanami of Yoyogi Park.
Every day has been an adventure; every time I left home I learned something new, I saw something new, I felt something new. How many good memories in Tokyo.
Two months after my arrival we move to our second move. This time we chose a room with a kitchen and a bathroom that seemed bigger, but actually was just more expensive and difficult to manage. But you know one thing, I have beautiful memories related to that place. We started cooking together, happy to have a fire (just one) all for our self.
I learned to prepare some Japanese dishes, little by little I memorized the most important phrases just to survive and I learned something important about myself: the culture shock made me a stronger woman.
Since I’me here, I had the opportunity to see groups of people who, after their arrival, faced with the clear lifestyle and culture differences, closed themselves up and sometimes left the country because too hard to live in (the famous culture shock).
On the contrary, I think that from the first moment I arrived in Japan, this strong diversity in which I find myself wrapped up, being an expatriate, was such a fascinated thing that make me want to immerse more in this culture.
Made me realise the beauty of differences, how two people with the same age and apparently the same passion, can live such a different way their daily life and the way they see the world.
For me this is just too beautiful.
After 8 months in Tokyo we decided to change lives.
Having taken the thoughtful decision to move to a more peaceful and comfort place (within our budget), we moved towards the sea, with a daily view of the magnificent Mount Fuji in Kanazawa prefecture. An apartment more like a house, a quiet area and kind neighbours.
Definitely a new beginning.
For me travel in Japan means learn and experience simple and beautiful thing, that can literally change your life.
Still in Autumn we were guests at the home of Yo’s friends in Nikko. We slept in a wonderful traditional house and for the first time I took a bath in an Ofuro Hinoki, a bathtub made entirely with a fine type of wood called Hinoki. Unforgettable.
Also in Nikko I witnessed my first major earthquake with its first J-Alert (scary). I will hardly forget it.
In winter I took part ar gastronomic trip to Kanazawa. I have studied and seen with my own eyes the production of sake and miso. I ate one of my best meals in a restaurant of an Australian-Japanese couple on the Noto peninsula, and I did all this traveling from Tokyo to Ishikawa (round trip) using only local trains (Seishun18), braving the cold and the Japanese winter snow (which should not be underestimated).
Spring? while Christmas was just between the two of us, we decide to spent easter with my family in Italy. If I think about it now, was the best choice we have ever made.
2018 year was really hard for my family. Many thing happen and I wasn’t there.
When you chose to move and live abroad, you have to face this situations. I knew that, but I wasn’t expecting to see all this thing happen just a few month after my arrival to Japan.
That said, we spend one of the most beautiful easter ever. I am soo lucky guys.
The best part?
Just the night before our departure, with his beautiful Italian, in front of all my family Yo said:”I want to marry your daughter”.
I will never forget the face of my dad!
Summer 2019? A dream come true. On August 15th I married the man I love.
Too early to judge? Maybe yes, maybe not, we are happy.
So many thoughts and goals for the future (always too many) and a great desire to get involved. Honeymoon? You will see ‘, for now we are dedicated to organizing trips around the country on our bicycles! For the rest, let’s see what tomorrow awaits us!