First Impression of Tokyo

This is a bit of a throwback, having first appeared on my first blog, which I started just after arriving in Japan in 2006. Sadly, that blog no longer exists. Makes me wish I’d written down my first impressions on paper.

The original blog still existed when I started my second blog, which was about getting married and having a baby, and so I copied and pasted the poem to it.

Third blog’s a charm?

I came to Japan with an eikaiwa, and did a lot of commuting to different school branches. I remember being overwhelmed by the huge, brightly lit billboards, the massive screens—volume on—showing commercials, music videos and other random clips. Sitting on the train, watching it all go by, kilometre after kilometre after kilometre, was almost unbelievable for me. My hometown had a population of about 3000 people, and even Canada’s biggest cities don’t glow the way Tokyo does. They don’t even come close.

Anyway, it was in that country-bumpkin-in-the-big-city kind of place from where I wrote this.

So here it is, my first impression of Tokyo, weird spacing and all:

Ode to Tokyo 

Strange days in a 
          Tokyo haze
Cars far too big for the narrow streets
speed by me
As I sit staring out the train window at the bright lights of a city so huge,
          So foreign, so hard to believe…
                                                       Is real…
I’m really here in this crazy
          of manga and Keropi ~
Hello Kitty greets me from every angle
Every surface covered in flourescent flashing
                                                               “Buy This!”
                                                               “Buy That!”
I can’t read what it says, 
But I get the gist…
                           It’s all the same, no matter where you go, 
                                                   but different.
Hiragana, katakana, kanji ~ all sprinkled together like one big bowl of Alphabet Soup, 
                     but it’s bizarro Alphabet Soup that I can’t read…
Illiterate, everywhere I look is something else I can’t read…
              But even if I could, would I understand? 
This culture shock, shocks the system, culture walk into the Land of Oz…
         Odds and ends that don’t match ~
                  East meets west, old and new, grey and seizure-causing colours make up this crazy city known as Tokyo
             Bright lights in a haze of starry night…
                                     This is Tokyo.

Published by helenkamakura

Helen is a Canadian writer and innkeeper based in Kamakura, Japan, where she lives with her Japanese husband and two children. If money became obsolete, she would happily accept peaches, fresh peas, and sun-warmed cherry tomatoes in exchange for her labour.

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