Journal - Napló

Days 410-421, Tokyo (Japan 3.)

Posted on February 8, 2011 at 1:00 PM


   Alex arrived at the final stop of his journey. About 13 months ago he set out with his companion riding the bike. They seperated back in Bulgaria. He traveled by bike as far as Istanbul, then he hitch-hiked or took the bus to Erzurum where we first met. We hitch-hiked together to Tehran then he chose to head to Dubai. In Delhi we met again for a couple of days, then in the Nepalese Pokara. We traveled together through Tibet as far as Beijing. And now, during the last days of his journey, we were wearing out our shoes together again.

Over the last months we were freezing together in the winter wind howling through the Turkish mountains; in Katmandu, we ran side by side gasping for breath with the demonstrating Maoists with their torches; we rode the tricycle equipped with our keyboard on the Tibetan plateau…


   We spent three days together in Tokyo. Now we were exploring the city, then we were just lying ont he asphalt at a riverbank in the shade of a bridge… Then, on a Monday morning Alex took the plane to go back to Spain so that he could continue his studies.


   The Japanese capital is the perfect proof of the fact that moving the traffic under the ground is necessary. Looking at the maze-like map of the metro lines (that are run either by the state or by companies) there’s no space underground, not even for a single earthworm. However, the surface is airy and liveable. There is traffic on the roads, of course, but I have never ever seen a traffic jam there.


   My accomodation usually was the top of a 10-storey building. View over the city, switch in the wall and some times I could even get wifi connection. I got disturbed only once. That morning –I was with Alex back then- I was wakened by two gentlemen who came to fix the fan of the air conditioner.

   I  spent a few nights in capsule-hotels (before dealing with visa affairs that called for showering, for instance). These things are practically huge, cast, plastic cabins with built-in clock, radio, television, lamps and phone. Drawing the curtains provides total isolation which gives excellent opportunity for blog writing or –I guess- for playing submarine games.


   …In Harajuku quarter the world of anime and mangas is reflected in the makeups, dressing and haircuts of the passers-by. The scyscrapers of Shinjuku district try the strenght of your neck; the business district right next to the railway station is so clean and organized that it makes you unable to decide whether you’re in or outside a house. The bookshop quarter could compete with any European city in both supply and atmosphere… And, no matter what part of the capital you are at, if you need shade and green, just look at the map and you’ll find a nearby park, guaranteed.

   Everything else that doesn’t fit in this neat picture is exiled to the little, intimate rooms of Manga café houses (and other, similar, cabin-like things offering opportunity for isolation).


   But who is enjoying all this, the „perfect world”? To me it seemed that I was the only one who had time for that…, because the Japanese work really day and night so that their world could be what it is now. We can’t even say that the next generation will be the one benefiting from it, as they are „tamed” for this hard work. Because this peace, beauty and order can only be maintained by constant sacrifices… (?) Nevertheless thank you, who doze off on the metro.


Day 419., Russian visa


   …I visited the Russian Embassy. Entering the small waiting room of the visa section, I saw a document saying that Hungarian citizens (and many other nationalities) without Japanese permit (i.e. a permit entitling to stay more than 90 days in Japan) cannot be given visa. Although I was aware of this rule, that kind of confrontation didn’t put a smile on my face. Beside the necessary documents I wrote a letter adressed to the consul general in which I expressed why I didn’t have intention to get the visa back in Hungary (I didn’t know when I would get to Russia), and I asked for the special permission of the consul general.

After a few hours of waiting I stepped to the window. I handed my documents to the lady. The official forms were all right. She read the letter that I wrote to the consul. „Nice writing”-she smiled, then she gave me back the paper. I forced some calmness on myself and I told her what purpose the letter would serve. „Not necessary” – the lady was smiling steadily, stating that there were examples when in similar cases the visa was given. The expressions ’similar cases’ and ’there were examples’ did not calm me down.


   I went to an ATM to get some cash, returned to the office and payed the visa fee. I stepped to a wrong window. I showed to a young gentleman that I would like to pay… and also, I have a letter that I’d like to adress to the consul general. He toroughly read it through, then sent me to the window dealing with visa requests. He searched my „files”, attached the letter and said it’s likely that I’ll get the visa. I saw the world in a different colour now.


   Two days later, I went to the embassy ready to hit the road, equipped with a big backpack and the intention to „leave the capital with or without the visa”. It was the lady who during my first visit did not become very dear to me that was there to deal with me. She handed the passport to me, smiling, and asked to check the data of the visa. If there hadn’t been a glasswall, maybe I would have given her a hug…

translated by Galambos Ágoston

Categories: English, Japan, by Peter

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