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Blog // Travel
November 18, 2013

Three Months In Tokyo

Starting to adjust to life in Tokyo after three months here. A lot going, a lot to look forward to, and a lot to be thankful for as well.

Tokyo Three Month
Last week marked three months since I arrived in Tokyo. Since this almost coincided with my birthday, it felt like a good time to take a weekend away. Some cool days & cold nights in the Onsen (Hot Spring) township of Kaurizawa was the perfect chance to reflect on these first three months in Japan.

So Far So Slow

This move has reminded me I always seem to underestimate how disruptive relocating is and overestimate how much I can get done in the first three months in a new city.

The simple truth is this move has gone surprisingly well. It’s been the smoothest and most hassle-free of the six international moves I’ve made. And yet, at many times during the past three months I’ve felt stressed, exhausted and disappointed with how things have gone.

The Reality Sets In

Partly this is because earlier this year I didn’t feel ready to move. I had no desire to live the rest of my days in Singapore, but I also didn’t expect to be leaving in 2013. I had put a lot of effort into getting my music studio set up and packing that up, along with the active projects I had started this year was a real pain.

Tokyo is a lot more organised, polite and easier to shop in than Hong Kong or Singapore. But, it can also feel like things progress slowly here and not just because of the language barrier. While I feel a sense of cognitive dissonance reading some of the expat complaints about life in Tokyo I do have to acknowledge it takes a little adjusting to get into the rhythm of life here.

Moreover, as a parent, my kid’s needs take priority and settling into a new school, no matter how good it might be, takes time and effort.

And, the biggest headache of all has been the delays in getting my studio set up. When it’s finished, it will easily be the best studio space I’ve ever had; an extraordinarily quiet and well balanced acoustic space almost totally free from distraction. But, until it’s ready, I’m progressing slowly on my existing projects.

Pleasant Surprises

But, I don’t want to sound negative, because there have been so many pleasant surprises. On an almost daily basis I find Tokyo intrigues, delights challenges and amazes me.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise, given Tokyo’s reputation, is how affordable life is here. To put it bluntly, I believe Tokyo is, on the whole, cheaper for an average expat, than Singapore. Certainly everything I buy on a regular basis, either in terms of food, clothing or creative pursuits, is more affordable here. And, the overall shopping experience, both in terms of service and choice is far, far better.

Moreover, despite being such a huge city, it is easy to get around Tokyo. And, my excursions out of Tokyo have reminded me why Japan’s fast rail network is still the envy of many countries.

Some Initial Successes

Working on my studio, taking Japanese lessons three times a week, unpacking and helping my daughter settle into school have taken up the bulk of my time since moving here. It’s a rhythm that looks set to continue till the end of the year (though with less unpacking and more guitar playing as each week passes).

I’ve been devoting a lot of time to The Society For Film, including covering the Tokyo International Film Festival (a huge highlight) and working on a complete site overhaul.

In the next three months I have trips planned to Hong Kong and India, as well as a few more excursions into Japan’s mountains.

And, of course, it will be Christmas soon.

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