I have been trying to come to Japan now for 3 years. 3 long years of building this expectation of what it’s like to leave the country for the first time. My friends have all told me stories about how magical this country is. They painted a picture that traveling to Japan is an experience that I will never forget.
Ramen is so affordable and prepared by chefs who spend quite a bit of time perfecting their craft. Sushi is so fresh you can still taste the ocean. Architecture is so pristine it takes your breath away. Transportation is so punctual that staff will apologize to you if it is a minute late. I literally heard it all.
I was so excited to travel that I left my water bottle in San Francisco and my favorite pair of mixing headphones in my Los Angeles sublease. I did not notice my biggest suitcase was broken until I was already gone from the airport at Haneda and later found myself carrying 50 lbs. in one hand and rolling two suitcases in the other. Then I stood in my airport fit outside struggling, trying to remember the Japanese kanji for taxi. The cellphone I had with me had no signal because the initial sim card I had purchased was not working.
“It’s a terrible day for rain”- Hiromu Arakawa. In this moment, I immediately thought of a scene from the critically acclaimed anime show Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood. Colonel Mustang is standing outside mourning the loss of one of his best friends, Major Hughes. The sky is full of sunshine when he turns to his captain and says the infamous line, “It’s a terrible day for rain,” as one tear falls down his eye.
This intense homesickness was like nothing I had ever felt before. My mind was flood with things we cannot forget. The hugs goodbye are why I still haven’t washed my first shirt I wore out here yet, (well, that and the laundry machine was broken…don’t worry it is fixed now). So, I did what I did, I found a community that understood this new loneliness to distract me from this feeling while at the same time helping me embrace it. We worked together to go to the ward office to get our Japanese health insurance cards and address.
Then, I decided that I needed to do something I love for the ones I love, so I went straight to Tower Records in Shibuya. Good old fashion retail therapy. I won’t get to see my family until Christmas, so might as well help Santa out a little bit by grabbing gifts now. My best friend Cassie, who is really more like a big sister, and her father told me about this magical place where every floor was filled with music. As a music business major, I had to see what the hype was about.
In the heart of Shibuya as soon as you get off the train it is just a 7 min walk to this amazing store. I decided since I am new to writing, why don’t I just take you with me?
Being one of the last stores in the world that still sells physical records, it was wonderful to see how busy the store was on a Saturday. Each floor was packed with people checking out the latest releases. Japan is the number 2 country in the music industry due to its culture of appreciating music by investing in the physical records. It was inspiring to see everyone bond over their love for music. Nothing has helped me alleviate this feeling of homesickness like my experiences with music and my community.
I hope you will continue to follow my journey as I attempt to blog and vlog about it in real-time. Find out how other students are adjusting to abroad at this link here!