Sunsets and Japanese residential areas made for a pretty combination that can’t be found anywhere else. The streets were lined with traditional Japanese homes – absolutely tiny and often clad in tones of beige, cream and brown – and “mansions” (which are not actual mansions as the name suggests, but actually are apartments) with neatly paved roads and telephone poles. There were no pedestrian footpaths. An enormous number of people rode bicycles or motorbikes around. The roads themselves were so small and confined that a regular sized sedan would find corners especially tight and u-turns difficult.
I loved these streets almost as much as I loved the street on which I grew up in Sydney – the leafy north west, which is as far as one can get from these cramped, concrete-coloured streets in Ichikawa, Japan.
Near Ichikawa. Half an hour’s walk from Minamigyotoku station. The blue skies made me feel as though I really was reaching into an anime scene. [iPhone 6S | unedited]
I stayed with a friend for three weeks last December in the quaint suburb of Minamigyotoku, and it was an experience to remember. Not because I did anything particularly out of the ordinary or went to unique places, but because I had felt removed from my regular life back in Sydney during my stay. It felt almost surreal; although time was passing and people were busily acting out their own lives, it felt as if I stepped out of my world and into a small dimensional pocket where I only existed as part of the backdrop of someone else’s life.
Of course, it does help that the streets look like a realistic rendering of anime streets. I’m not a huge anime fan by all means, but the little thrill of recognition and familiarity that Japanese streets induce in me feel almost like a calmer and more wholesome dose of psychedelia. At the very least, it makes me feel like I really am a world away from home, and that makes me both excited and lonely.
I miss Tokyo. I love the flashing neon signs and the nights that are brighter than days – traditional hallmarks of Shinjuku and Roppongi – but I love the quiet calm of Tokyo suburbia just as much, with a different kind of love. If the former pumps me full of thrill and excitement, the latter is like a lullaby that croons and soothes the exhausted twenty something soul.
Yes, I want to go back. Who wouldn’t? Honestly speaking, I don’t think I’ll have a chance to go back and relive these halcyon winter days for a long while yet. Life in Sydney is demanding and my absence is too sharply noted by many to drop everything and leave like I did last year. I’m also trying to work through some issues of my own that unfortunately get triggered by Japan right now….so I don’t think I’ll be back too soon. But that isn’t Japan’s fault in the least, and I really look forward to the day I can step foot in these streets again and feel like I’m twenty one and worry-less again.