May 14, 2002

Tripping on Tokyo Last Sunday,

Tripping on Tokyo
Last Sunday, I accidently tuned in to King of the Hill, because nobody in their right mind would intentionally tune in to King of the Hill. Anyway, the Hills were visiting Tokyo, and even though it's only a cartoon, it prompted all sorts of flashbacks to the year I lived in that sprawling city. More specifically, it reminded me of the first couple of weeks I spent acclimating to the Tokyo environment. I was raised in a small town of only about 1,000 people. Suddenly, I found myself totally surrounded by people. People everywhere. Even when I thought I was all by myself, I could hear voices all around me coming from builldings, from behind fences and gurgling up from canals. Here in Minnesota, we have Wal-Mart; in Tokyo, there were shopping streets jam packed with small specialty stores with names like "Big Time Super Happy Fun Knitting Shop" and "Tasty Yummy Hunger Eliminating Open Mouth Pastry Place." Of course, I didn't learn the names of these places until much later in the year because everything was written in Japanese (in Japan? Go figure). Another thing I quickly discovered in Tokyo: everything makes a noise. Walk signals would play loud music while you crossed the street; vans selling flowers or food would go by with the driver singing strange, almost mournful, sales pitches; all around me, ambulances and other emergency vehicles were constantly blaring their way down the street; bikes would go by with the rider jingling his or her little bike bell. It was a cacaphony of noise for a small town lad who was used to hearing, at the most, a cow moo two miles away. I had many adventures during that year, some good, some bad, but the most fond memories are those from those first weeks, when I was shit scared of everything, curious about everything, homesick, excited, and full of wide-eyed wonder. Will I ever feel that way again?

Posted by Ryan at May 14, 2002 10:27 AM
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