Anyone who asked me about this trip knew that the one thing I just had to do was to watch the sumo wrestlers practice. For weeks, I had talked about sumo wrestling rituals and how excited I was to wake up early and them practice. Saturday was the golden day I had designated for this occasion, and I woke up like it Christmas morning–SO excited! One quick Google search presented me with one hurdle: sumos don’t practice on Saturdays. I found myself wide awake and dressed at 6 AM, with nowhere to go.
This kind of thing happens to me a lot.
Luckily, I have a lot of practice being lost. I boarded a train that was vaguely headed a direction that had some options, and ended up in Yoyogi Park, which was AWESOME!
Twenty minutes later, I was about to give up on this park. I was lost, and could not for my life figure out why my map said I was this close, when my eyes clearly showed me that I was in the middle of a deeply urban city.
When I saw a crowd of Japanese families heading down one of the city blocks, I decided to follow them and try my best not to look creepy. I probably looked like a cartoon, whistling to myself, thinking, Act natural. After about five minutes of following them down a road super casually, a HUGE forest appeared out of nowhere!
It’s hard to explain how impressive this was: I was downtown, in the middle of the hustle and bustle, then in a few short minutes, BOOM. I’m lost in the middle of towering, gorgeous trees like we really don’t ever see in Okinawa. Totally amazing, and totally disorienting. I was smiling to myself like I’ve never seen a tree before, and I obviously whipped out my selfie stick.It turns out that this is a selfie of the middle of the street, and the cars passing by gave me some…looks.
I had found Yoyogi Park, surrounded by a huge evergreen forest. Maybe the “I had found” part was a little strong…I had followed my instincts to copy the locals, which had served me well yet again. Just copy everyone else, right?
The park itself was huge! I watched people doing yoga on the grass, kids doing cartwheels, and explored the park a little more. I was totally in heaven. It was only 8AM, and already I was really living! Everything feels fifty times cooler when you’re travelling (WOW, kids cartwheeling in TOKYO! People doing yoga in TOKYO!! ) I explored aimlessly, accepting stares and pointed fingers from a few adorable toddlers. I didn’t care what they were staring at, I was truly happy.
Signs pointed me towards Harajuku Station, so I meandered that way, singing Gwen Stefani songs in my head. Completely on accident, I fell upon Meiji Shrine, hands-down my favorite part of the weekend.
The gardens seemed endless, an escape from the city and my life here in Okinawa. I wandered and wandered and wandered, let my mind completely run loose and took some time to pray for my family. I think part of me knew that I was beginning to miss the people that I loved, but this happens in cycles here. Missing people is such a part of my life that it feels normal, and I waved it off. I’ve mentioned before the danger in wallowing, and I was not about to let it derail my morning.
As I continued to walk, the forest melted away into a loud city street. People moved in one huge current, like a school of fish, and I was swept up with the group as we all decided to move a certain direction. I saw people dressed in costume, “cos-play” for some kind of something, but the whole experience, after the serenity of my morning, and before my morning coffee, was jarring. The overstimulation of Harajuku put it into full focus: I was alone.
As soon as the thought popped into my head, i felt stupid. That had been the whole point of traveling, and I had been gone barely a day! I was a few hours flight from home, and technically hadn’t even left the country! I was disgusted; the only person to keep me company was me, and I didn’t really like me, this girl couldn’t even take a few hours without pining for home.
I did what any good American would do: I grabbed a Starbucks, and went shopping.
I shopped for clothes, stationary, pens, socks…the list goes on. According to my FitBit, I walked 14 miles. By the end of Day 2, I was ready to be home and back to my life. I still definitely felt the tiny tugs of feelings wanting to be felt, but I had successfully worn myself out, and was unable to devote any energy at all to them. Exhausted, I trudged back to my Air B&B apartment, got my bedtime sake, and slept a dreamless sleep.