His first time in Tokyo

I didn’t realise that I hadn’t been sightseeing in Tokyo that much from a tourist’s viewpoint until Luca came to Japan in November. There are some popular tourist destinations in Tokyo and it’s easy to find them online, but I took him to my favourite areas where I often go for meals, drinks, shopping and some places at his request.

On the evening of 21st, he arrived at Narita airport after his 24-hour trip via Dubai. The following morning on the 22nd, we had a fairly big earthquake (the source of which was in Fukushima) and media warnings. He experienced an earthquake for the first time in his life, but he seemed fine. I immediately got a phone call from my mum asking if he was scared and whether he was ok. She was worried about his reaction towards the earthquake. He was rather calm.

The first place we went to was Shibuya, Harajuku, and Aoyama area. We had lunch at a standing sushi bar along Shibuya Centre-gai and walked around the streets in the afternoon. In the evening, as a very exciting event for me, I introduced him to Nanami at a traditional Japanese Tofu restaurant located just under Tokyo Tower. I was so happy that he met my longtime best friend in person, finally.

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On the 23rd, we went to Asakusa Nakamise-dori and an unagi restaurant and moved onto Akihabara to go to the AKB48 cafe which was so much fun! In the evening, we went to Korakuen Hall to watch a pro-wrestling match which we loved!

On the 24th, he asked me to go for ramen lunch, so I took him to Ramen Street in Tokyo Station. There are so many entertaining small shops: character shops, sweets shops and ramen shops in the underground arcade of Tokyo Station. We bought so much Pocky. That night, as an even more exciting event, I introduced him to my father at a traditional Japanese restaurant located in Ueno Park. We were all feeling nervous and had poor appetites at the beginning, even though the dinner was excellent. But later, we had fun with some UFO topics which my father loves to talk about! The first meeting was a bit funny but it went well. After the dinner, Luca and I went to Roppongi to chill out and have some drinks.

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During the rest of the trip from 25th to 28th, I took him to Kichijoji which is my hometown, Asakusa again, Harajuku again and Akihabara again. He really loved Harajuku and Akihabara. We walked around Shinjuku and Yurakucho as well, and we also met up with Steve and Fuyuhiko for drinks.

For a place to spend the last day of this trip, I chose Odaiba and a Hawaiian restaurant for lunch in Aqua City Odaiba. The view of the Tokyo Bay area from the restaurant’s window was fantastic. I strongly recommend the ‘Queen’s Bath Resort’ to tourists as a highlight of a Tokyo trip.

He flew back to the UK from Haneda airport on 29th, saying ‘I don’t want to leave Japan!’ During this stay, I just showed him to some of my favourite places and made opportunities to meet my friends. My friends said they want to see him again. I was also able to enjoy Tokyo and recognise our culture that surrounds my friends, family and myself.

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Old Bar

My visa application went smoothly, and my passport was returned with the new visa a week after I visited the application centre. I appreciate the priority service! I now feel very relieved that I can finally fly back to England.

I have also completed the online registration for my PhD programme. With this as a starter, an unfamiliar situation began to happen to me. So many unread emails from my university have piled up in my mailbox every day. The emails are no longer addressed ‘Dear Students’ but ‘Dear Researchers’. It seems that I need to select the important emails from all of the information from my school, department, office, societies, supervisors and directors. I suppose that lecturers in a supervisor position get even more emails, messages and documents. They must be very, very busy trying to deal with each response besides their work.

On the 19th, I met up with Nanami and went on a pub crawl. I heard all about what happened when she broke up with her boyfriend over a bit of a strong Manhattan and some Armagnac. It was 3 am when I saw my watch. We were pretty drunk and I went home by taxi. I realised I had slept in the entrance hall of my house when I woke up at noon. It has been a while since the last time I had such a stupid night out! I think I had a much needed break and relaxation.

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Thursdays with my aunt

When I visited my 77-year old aunt at the end of October, we had three bottles of wine together while discussing my research topic and her expertise, which was so much fun!

My aunt asked me to send a hard copy of my thesis to her and to visit her the following week. I visited her again this week to further discuss my studies over coffee. Her field is psychiatry, and she worked in the field over half a century. Her keen interest in my field is understandable. I could tell that she carefully read my thesis and had many notes as her comments.

She gave me some advice, suggestions and support for networking, for which I am very grateful. The first recommendation was to utilise my connections with my relatives. Almost all of my family members are medical workers. I arranged trips to see them. She also seemed to want to talk to me more about various topics. I was also impressed with her curiosity, energy and passion for discussing academic issues. We promised to meet up two more times for dinner before I leave for England.

Today, at Lindt cafe, I had a chocolate crepe with dark chocolate ice-cream and coffee. I think it was the most delicious food I have had in Japan during this stay. The chocolate released my work stress.

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Effort

I have just finished reading GRIT by Angela Duckworth. I was absorbed in reading it from beginning to end, so it didn’t take me long to read it all the way through.

Some sections attracted me: ‘Without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential’. I have great faith in ‘effort’ rather than ‘genius’ because I can explain how my life has changed by continuing efforts more than other people do. My reading, writing, thinking and learning, etc… are really slow, that’s why I have always needed to take my time, and I still do. Also, I knew that I would understand something after working on it for a long time. Without effort, I couldn’t have gained almost everything I eventually have.

I was really happy to know that the author gave scientific support to ‘perseverance’ and ‘connections between Grit and other elements such as personal curiosity and culture’. To dare to find my interests for almost everything I have worked on was particularly important for me, even though it hasn’t been easily found and I have hesitated about it. I would like to enjoy the world that I get.

I cooked Natto omelette the other day, which was very nice!

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Tidying up and my joy

A few weeks ago, I got a beautiful bouquet of orchids from Fuyuhiko. They are very beautiful. I have been putting them into and taking them out of the fridge.

The other day, I met up with my old classmates and teachers of a kimono school. They were so keen to hear about my study abroad.

My friendships or existing connections in Japan are all related to my past hobbies such as floral arrangements, tea ceremony and kimono dressing. Books on arts of flower, tea, kimono and housekeeping still remain on my bookshelves, even though I threw away the rest of my old books. Yesterday, I finished cleaning up my house using Marie Kondo’s method of tidying.

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