Japan is the country where I was born. I have never written about my trips to Japan even though I have gone back there every single year. My main purpose is to see my family but at the same time, that is a chance to ponder about life.
As usual, there were long flights from where I live in Australia to my hometown, Kumamoto. One of the reasons for the long flights was that I went through Tokyo. After I got to Tokyo, there was another delay before my flight to Kumamoto.
The other reason the journey felt so long was because of the eight-hour layover time at Singapore’s Changi airport. If we do not stay at a little hotel room inside the airport or do not plan to do something, the waiting hours feel dreadful.
I discovered that there were two free movie theatres in Changi airport. So if I could find a few good movies it is a good way to kill some time. Also, there are little pools, gyms or massage places.
By the time I got to Kumamoto, I was totally exhausted. Even though I have been travelling to Japan for ten years, I still find it difficult to get a decent sleep.
My mother is eighty years old and unfortunately, she is getting weaker and weaker every time I see her. In my mind, I think of my mother as she was in her 50’s and 60’s when she was strong. So observing her bedridden, getting vulnerable each year is hard.
I spent quality time with one of my best friends on the last day in Kumamoto. It was wonderful to catch up on each other’s lives since last we met. In spite of being a busy mum, she made time for me and we chatted and laughed a lot together.
The next day I flew to Tokyo. I caught up with my only brother there. We talked about our parents, the difference between our mother and father. My brother was saying one of the reasons our mum is bedridden is because she has never been interested in exercising throughout her life. That is partly because her hips and legs have been weak most of her life and she has gone through a few big operations over the years. Obviously, no one could say that she should have done exercises. Another reason she is ageing is because of her personality. She has been an introvert most of her life. She and one of her sisters have been good friends but other than that, my mum hardly ever socialised with other people. My father, on the contrary, is still active, he used to do social dancing for years and now he does table tennis three times a week. Thankfully, he is as fit as a fiddle.
The next day, I went to one of the old towns in Tokyo, Asakusa. I went there early in the morning before the many tourists arrived but they started to fill up the area soon after. Despite the crowds, I totally enjoyed the area.
Asakusa is the place where kimonos are common. I enjoyed watching the traditional and modern clothing together.
One of the differences between Japan and Australia is that most of the old-fashioned Japanese restaurants display plastic sample dishes on the footpath or at least photos to show you what the meals look like. So you know exactly what you will get.
The last day in Tokyo, I went to Aoyama where my favourite fashion designers’ shops are. Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garcons are the pioneers of Japanese fashion. Usually, I do not have the opportunity to visit their shops when I go to Japan because I do not visit Tokyo every time. But this trip I was in Tokyo and had a lot of time. I spent many happy hours wandering around their shops, looking at their crafts.
It was a wonderful trip to my hometown, Kumamoto as well as Tokyo.