Moving to Tokyo

It's happening. 

After 3 years of living (+ another 3 years of visiting every other month), I am moving out of NYC. To Tokyo.

Unpacking all the emotions I have about leaving my love-hate-love relationship with New York will require an entirely different post. Maybe a mini-series.

Tokyo—however—I have slightly more concise feelings about. 

I just had dinner with Marcia, who is also leaving New York—for new adventures in London. Catching up over soba in St. Marks helped me finally voice a few pre-moving jitters. I left our dinner date grateful for our strange, wonderful friendship. Can't believe the next time we see each other, we'll be residents of cities on opposite ends of the globe.

You had me at おはよう。

I've had the pleasure of visiting Japan twice in recent years. Both times to spend the holidays with Shuji and his family. Two short trips. About one week each. And come October, we're moving there for a few years.  

My first trip was the most memorable. I was snowed in (#snowpocalypse) and wasn't able to fly out for days. When I finally arrived in Japan I was so exhausted I forgot to be excited. At first.

Then the food happened. OH MY GOODNESS. THE FOOD. I never had so much good ramen. Not that Cup o' Noodle / Top Ramen bullshit. (Which, if you still can't understand why it's so wrong: imagine Easy Mac versus cacio e pepe.) 

Ok, fine. I didn't eat this is Japan. I made it at home via souvenir from a Japan trip. But the lesson here is that real ramen is a game-changer.

Ok, fine. I didn't eat this is Japan. I made it at home via souvenir from a Japan trip. But the lesson here is that real ramen is a game-changer.

I met Shuji's best friends from home. It's my first time meeting most of them and after making some small talk, we're all just sort of laughing together. The moment someone decides that we must karaoke—the pace of drinking intensifies. We all spill onto the street and my then-boyfriend-of-1-year climbs into a cab with 3 of his friends and leaves me behind on the street. I'm too exhausted realize what'd just happened. Jet-lag wanted my body in bed 4 hours ago. I make it to karaoke with a second wave of friends. We become quick homies after that. 

This is my second night in Tokyo. It's past 2am. I'm in a plush karaoke room, not quite drunk but so jet-lagged that I almost feel a body-high. I'm surrounded by a loud group of 11 guys taking turns yelling into a microphone and tackling each other (+1 girl who had some foresight into the chaos I was about to endure and was kind enough to hang with me). All drunk off beer, baiju, and the joy of good company.

It shattered any expectations of what I thought life would be like in Japan. 

So young. And so...bad at taking selfies.

So young. And so...bad at taking selfies.

I couldn't even read these characters then. Just liked the the design.

I couldn't even read these characters then. Just liked the the design.

It's New Years (oshougatsu) so we do some traditional stuff too. Visit beautiful temples, ate tasty treats, and even make a trip out to Kyoto.

Oh yeah—I try on a kimono! I am much larger in all directions than the nice ladies at the shop anticipate. Too much leg, boob, belly, butt—the whole shape is wrong. And I'm actually grateful for the language barrier (and the endless patience of Shuji's mom) because it is v awkward. But they somehow manage to successfully wrap me up into a beautiful butterfly.

At the time, I really only know basic Japanese. Simple phrases like greetings for each time of day and where is the bathroom?

At this time too.. tbh. I completely forgot 4 semesters of Japanese. Sorry Okita-sensei.

So here I am. 2 months away from packing up the things I dragged from SoCal to Boston to Brooklyn. Which hopefully fits in less than 10 boxes.

I'm working on my application to this rad Master program in Tokyo, which will start next fall. I'll talk about it more if I actually get in, but right now I don't want to get my hopes up. I just shipped off paperwork to a Japanese language school. It's happening guys. 

So stoked to experience the design scene! Already have a couple new designer connections via the amazing humans I've worked with here in NYC. Hopefully I'll make new buds to have museum days with. Take classes in traditional crafts like indigo dyeing and textile patterns. Learn furniture design. I DON'T KNOW. I'M JUST GOING TO DO IT.

Looking back to who I was when I first moved across the country, I anticipate how much change this move will bring. I mean, I'm moving across the world. Excited to see who I'll be on the other side.

Lessa Chung