Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Reverse Culture Shock - Back to the U.K.

I couldn't believe that I was going back to the U.K., even if only for a few days. I had never been away from Britain for more than a week at a time before I came to Japan, but I quite quickly got used to the idea that I wasn't there anymore. I had adapted to thinking of the British isles as being miles away (I visualise the world map a lot, and my relative position on it), nine hours behind us, my old friends and family members reduced to pixels and occasional Skype conversations. The U.K. was no longer my reality... it was a memory which, like childhood, like school and family holidays and old TV programmes, I had lovingly crafted and distorted with my mind. Going back seemed surreal, like going back to school again, back to an old job. I tried to distract myself on the flight, getting myself back into the mood with English films, but as the plane began its descent onto British soil, I could not get my head around it.

The thing is, I might have been in Japan for nine months straight, but every night when I close my eyes, I inevitably dream in British. I am usually always somewhere back home, in Wales, as if my subconscious was never able to evolve past the landscape of my early years.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

An Impromptu Day in Tokyo

Sorry, it's been a while! I arrived back in Japan on the 6th of January, after spending a few days back in the U.K. over Christmas. I was originally meant to fly out there on the 23rd of December. I had booked a hostel for the night, and paid for my shinkansen tickets in advance (as it is cheaper to do so), ready to head up to Tokyo on the evening of the 22nd after work, and to fly out the next morning.

Alas, it was not to be quite so easy. The U.K. had been covered in snow for a few weeks (and by covered, I mean a couple of inches, which to the British is a blizzard of epic proportions, just as a persistent temperature of 25C is considered an "Indian summer") and so a lot of flights were delayed or cancelled. The day before I was due to fly, the flight company emailed me and told me that my flight had been cancelled. Gripped with panic, I set about trying to call both company and travel agency. As it was around 4am in the U.K. at this point, I had little luck. Eventually I decided to spend the rest of my worldly wealth on another flight, if I could find one. I was lucky enough to find a flight with BA for the 24th for a relatively reasonable cost. Warned that this flight could also be cancelled due to the weather, I went ahead and booked it anyway. Shinkansen tickets and hostel reservation still standing, I decided to head up to Tokyo that night anyway, and book a second night at the hostel. Jenny was going to be coming with me anyway, she herself not flying out until the 24th. This left us both with an unforseen day together in Tokyo, to fill in whatever way we saw fit.