A Day in the Life: Tokyo

I can list at least four reasons right now why I love Tokyo. But why tell you when I can show you?

Well, by showing you I mean telling you in a slightly different way. But please bear with.

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Working full-time, worrying about money, feeling guilty about not exercising and writing as much as I should and being tired 100% of the time takes its toll. Today is my only day off this week thanks to a compulsory training day that happened to fall on my holiday (yaaay) so I knew I had to get all non-work stuff done today.

I got up early and took the train to Jiyuugaoka (which means ‘freedom hill’; pretty cool) to visit the doctor for a medical re-prescription. Reason #1 why I love living here: you pay peanuts for health insurance (about £8 a month), by paying your health insurance you get 70% knocked off your medical bill AND you can always see a doctor super-quick. I showed up at around 10am without an appointment, and was still in and out within fifteen minutes.

I wanted to send money to my English bank account – I finally got some yen, but my poor, debt-ridden British account is lying empty. I headed to my bank to send money, but there was a problem. I almost started crying in front of the staff, who was very kind and sympathetic. [Reason #2: Japanese staff workers are, most of the time, extremely kind and helpful, especially if you make an effort to speak Japanese] However, it turned out I couldn’t send money home. By this point, I was feeling very stressed.

I had a few choices at this point. I could have given up and gone home, tried sending money home a different way or forgot about it and had fun. I chose the latter, of course.

I came to a game centre and tried the UFO catcher machine. I didn’t have much luck at first, but then I managed to win a giant pikachu dressed as a snorlax (adorable). Reason #3: cute cartoon characters and toys are ippai aru (lots. Everywhere.) I was super happy about winning pika-lax. Reason #3: catching toys in the UFO machines isn’t just possible, it’s (fairly) easy.

Karaoke bars in Tokyo
Neon sign saying “Karaoke” in Japanese, Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan, October 25, 2012.

After that, I really fancied singing some karaoke. In the same building as the game centre, on the 8th floor, was a karaoke place. I zoomed up in the lift, and realised I only had 1000 yen left in my wallet. Visiting the doctor and winning Pika-lax had accidentally drained my cash. But because it’s a weekday and it was only half past twelve in the afternoon, singing karaoke by myself – including a drink, for an hour and a half – turned out to only be 450 yen. That’s cheaper than just the drink from Starbucks. Something to think about.

Pikachu and I sang/screamed/shouted my favourite tunes for ninety minutes, letting out all the stress and anxiety that has accumilated in the past few months. I like my life here, but this whole ‘adult’ thing can be a pain. I sang Pink, Avenged Sevenfold, Phantom of the Opera, Paramore and Evanescence – took me back to being a teenager, and with no one to watch or listen, I could sound as terrible as I liked. I left just after two o’clock feeling refreshed. Reason #4: karaoke is cheap, fun and you can stay as long as you like, night or day.

I went to Subway for lunch, then came here to Natural Lawson to use their Wifi (reason #5: Natural Lawson, 7/11 and Family Mart convenience stores offer free Wifi) and write this. It’s been a while since I had a good ‘me’ day, and I really felt I wanted to tell you all about how to refresh yourself in Tokyo.