It has been a month now since my return from my first trip to Japan and I sure can tell you one thing now I’m back home in The Netherlands: I hate Japan. And I will clearly tell you why!
It starts with the arrival back on Schiphol. I want to take the first train to The Hague and I’m instantly welcomed by a group of adults smoking on the so-called balcony in the train and some typical music that was playing on the volume “deaf”. There I’m standing with my suitcases and my tired face: Welcome back to The Netherlands!
Welcome back to The Netherlands!
I quickly make my way to the next entry of the train and quickly get in. With some nifty tricks, I get my suitcases in easily. There’s no help needed for that, I’ve walked around with these in Japan and that went just fine. So it should be fine in The Netherlands as well. In the distance, I hear the shouts of the dancing gentlemen and a lady to the typical music. I was very embarrassed. And I was happy that I could get off in The Hague and continue my way home. At the station I was welcomed by an emotional mother; she apparently thought a month was way too long.
A month was way too short
But I have to say that I thought a month was too short to see something of Japan. I have seen something of Tokyo, Osaka, Shizuoka, Kyoto and Nara myself. According to some people who I spoke after my vacation that’s quite a lot, but I feel like I haven’t seen much still. I could -if I wanted to- visit a concert every day; there was more than enough to choose from. It might be crazy, but the concerts in Japan spoke to me more than the concerts who get access to various stages in The Netherlands. I could go somewhere by train every day and feast my eyes. Often I ran into the conbini beforehand to grab an onigiri (or two) and something to drink (Calpis or Pocari Sweat?), so I could gather enough energy along the way for my trip. I stayed in Nakano, so the Nakano Broadway was within walking distance. To be fair pretty much everything was within walking distance; walking in mainly Tokyo isn’t weird. Walking from Ochanomizu to Ginza is easily doable, especially if you stop at the Eastern gardens of the Imperial Palace for a quick visit. Or walking from Shinjuku to Shibuya, to be able to walk around in Harajuku. About half an hour, that’s no problem. It reminds me of the time I lived close to station Holland Spoor and walked to the centre of The Hague on a regular basis.
Tokyo vs The Hague
But if I compare my adventures in mainly Tokyo to my current place of residence The Hague, I know I will quickly feel let down by the fact I miss quite a lot of things. Like all those cool shops, in some department stores, I knew how to walk around in circles a lot. The (usually two) floors of restaurants for when you developed quite an appetite from all that shopping. I thought it was interesting to see how some shops were hidden and you had to take the stairs or elevator to eventually get there. And when you finally enter the store you often see (large) spaces filled with interesting goods which you actually all want to take home, BUT YOU CAN’T! You can only import €430,00 tax-free and you obviously want to avoid extra costs! The disappointment is huge when you are already at your limit. What to do?
Food and drink
And then the food; I ended up in various restaurants. From simple food for a few hundred yen to special atmosphere lunching or dining. And otherwise, I miss the delicious coffee from Veloce, my favourite place! I came there often and enjoyed the coffee by myself. Sometimes with a treat. I don’t really do these things in The Hague, let alone the rest of The Netherlands. Not even when I go to Brussels or Berlin by myself. In those cases, I’d rather go with someone. But in Japan, I wasn’t bothered!
Yet, I met quite some people during my vacation to Japan. Some were friends who I only knew through the internet, but obviously, I’ve already met friends who I’ve known for a while. Even friends from Europe I mainly ran into in Tokyo. Think about my French friend who went to a concert with her boyfriend and me or my German friend which I joined on a tour to various music stores. It was a very social vacation, even after my vacation I’m bothered by this social need. I want to see people, I want to do fun things. But if I think about where we could go to boredom kicks in pretty quickly already. And that has nothing to do with friends, but with me.
During that one month I quickly got used to the environment and actually I never wanted to leave; I had something fun to do every day. And if I was tired enough for a moment, I could get annoyed at the Japanese TV with some very stereotypical programs specifically aimed to a certain audience. Still, I have learned how I can walk the best way and I even got to watch some anime; although I have to say that my Japanese still isn’t completely perfect. Enough motivation to learn! But even so, now I am home again I’m staring ahead of me blankly sometimes.
Now I’m home again I’m staring ahead of me blankly sometimes.
Luckily I can tell various people what my vacation to Japan was like – even if some say it was more like living there than an actual vacation, because some people only go on vacation for about two weeks, I know: “I’m lucky”- and luckily I can put some messages on AVO Magazine. Still, I’m sitting here in The Netherlands with an empty feeling that has to be filled. And a time of takoyaki, okonomiyaki or sushi eating doesn’t help! At some point, you’re finished talking anyway. So I’m looking forward to the next anime convention, to be in Japanese atmosphere again, even though I’m afraid of getting homesick a lot. I have to say I’m bothered by it right now.
And that’s why I “hate” Japan. I miss everything from Japan, and I think my life in The Hague is boring. Japan, I hate you. I’m trying to come back as soon as possible!