I'm back from my family vacation in Japan and it was so many things: warm, comfortable, stressful, and everything in between. I've got to give my parents credit for doing something as daring as traveling to Asia (growing up, our idea of a "vacation" was driving 5 hours to Miami to visit family), and my sister..well being the world traveler that she is, it was all just so easy for her. There's so much to write about, so bear with me while I sort out all my thoughts throughout the week. I'll try to cover the main stuff.
I think I've taken for granted how comfortable I am living here because I almost forgot how overwhelming and trying it is to come to Japan--and survive. I really was the tour guide in every sense of the word. "Don't lose this ticket...Put on these indoor shoes...stand to the left..don't touch..." At first, it was frustrating, but once I realized how ridiculously strange Japan is for Westerners, I relaxed. I met them in Tokyo and showed them around Shibuya at nighttime, which puts New York's Time Square to shame. Bright, BRIGHT lights that make it easy to mistake it for daytime.
We stayed in a capsule hotel for the first night so my fam could experice the tiny foam mattresses for themselves. It was a good J-experience, but one night was enough. :) I'm going to upload all the pics from our trip onto my website soon.
One thing that I loved about this trip was that I was reminded how cool Japan really is. I hate to admit it, but it's really lost its appeal for me and I got a bit jaded with this country for a while. I stopped noticing things that are clearly everything BUT American. Worst of all, I stopped asking questions. But once my sister was talking about the crazy lights, polite taxi drivers in white gloves, crowded streets, and just overall gaudy decor surrounding downtown Tokyo, I suddenly got nostalgic for my first few weeks here. That curious awe when I first saw those massive crosswalks coming to meet from 5 directions. The innocent novelty of seeing young Japanese in the tackiest, yet endearing outfits. Beer vending machines. 20-story buildings turned into TV screens. Pachinko parlors (gambling) and space-age arcades at every corner. Brainless techno that could only be enjoyed if you were on 20 pills of speed. Tokyo is the epitome of sensory overload. Like everything else though, the first time is always the best.