TOKYO, JAPAN — Like every great dive, you get lost in the wonder and exploration, until you realize it’s time to resurface and breath again. But in Japan, the pull of the tide is stronger than most.
Back to Tokyo and plenty of time to think on the 8-hour Shinkansen from the south. Japan is a world of juxtaposition. Travel at 400 km/hr; tea services that last hours. The most ancient sacred shrines just steps from sky-splitting glass towers. The quiet of a bamboo forest or the brain pounding din of a Pachinko parlor.
But that’s what makes Japan so challenging and so endlessly exploreable. As deep as we felt we dove at places like the Tsukiji fish market, the back country of Arashiyama, the tiny Yakitori joints of Hiroshima — we were only dipping our toes into the water.
In Tokyo for the last time, we ate our fill and soaked up the last bits of crazy, beautiful, ponderous experiences before leaving. In a dimly lighted shanty bar that sat no more than 8 people in the depths of Shinkjuku’s Golden Gai district, on our last night, we ran into a couple Aussies that were just arriving. They asked what they should check out during their two week stay. Four hours and six rounds of Suntory later, they were paddling off as we were stepping back onto dry land.
On the walk back to our hotel in Nezu, we were caught yet again in a downpour. It was as if the gods wanted to remind us that no matter where we go and what we do from then on out, we’ll always retain a bit of the feel, the smell, the taste that comes from a long, slow, endlessly amazing dive into this amazing world.