Despite incredibly advanced technological advances in robotics, the banking industry in Japan is painfully traditional. Japan is still largely a cash-based society, so be prepared to walk around with a wad of cash to buy things. Paying by credit card is only available at major department stores and at some restaurants. Most people pay their bills with cash at a convenience store or at the post office. If you can’t be bothered with that, direct debit is also available. Now onto the banks…
I can still remember looking at a picture of the solar system in a children’s encyclopedia and feeling like I somehow knew those great nine wanderers intimately. At the weekly visit to the Hindu Temple, I remember gazing curiously at the personifications of the nev graha – nine planets – as they are they known in Vedic astrology. I often circled around them as though I were a mini-planet earth. To me, the myths and allegories that the planets have inspired over the millennia are as fascinating as the scientific discoveries of the past two centuries. May the night sky never cease to inspire us.
“In Japan, it’s better not to stick out,” a friend of mine advises me over Vietnamese spring rolls and papaya salad in Shibuya. “We have a saying – the nail that sticks out gets hammered down.”
I ordered the mixed set that came with two seasonings: salt and miso. I personally preferred the miso. Whilst the dish didn’t offend my tastebuds, I failed to see what the big deal was. The texture of the meat was chewy and tough-ish. Some pieces were delicious, but a lot of the pieces were simply not to my liking. I wouldn’t call it much to look at either…. Having said that, I loved the pickles and the soup. The pickles were packed with flavour. And the tail meat in the soup was incredibly tender.
It’s been a tough week. One where I’ve had to make very difficult decisions. Face some hard truths. Do things I’d rather not. Make necessary but painful decisions about who stays in my life and who goes. Embodying the energy of the Suit of Swords is not something that comes easily to me. When the choice is between preserving yourself and destroying another, what do you choose?
Ueno is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Tokyo. It just has so much to offer that I don’t even know where to start. A park. A zoo. A shrine. An array of different museums. And of course, the super famous Ameyoko Shopping Street. I believe I’m not the only one that loves a good bargain?
Japan is probably not a place where most foreigners would ever truly feel at home. But after three years here, I can safely say – it’s not exactly ‘home’, but it’s become very very familiar. After five weeks on the road for both professional and personal reasons, I’m back in my messy apartment that I never quite have time to clean. What an anticlimax…