Friday, October 12, 2012

Japan: おたんじょうび おめでとう; Happy Birthday, day 1

a normal shopping scene en route to Solamachi
     Birthday's are a weird thing; it's the anniversary of coming into this life, this reality we share...each candle we earn is our tally for essentially beating the odds; another year without getting hit by a bus, developing a fatal illness, tripping in front of a train, getting trampled by a rogue cow...these things happen every day (well, maybe not the cow attacks)... Another year of life is a victory, yet many people bitterly remark, "another year closer to death!"...which is true, of course. Every year is another step away from childhood and closer to being elderly, with all the problems that come along with it; but the way I see it, we could all die tomorrow; a comet could smash into the planet, obliterating life as we know why dwell on the inevitability of mortality during what should otherwise be a celebration of survival?
moment of zen
Sky Tree
     I celebrated my birthday in September. This means that I'm a Virgo, coincidentally born in the year of the Rabbit, for what that matters to anyone. Anyway, this happened to be my first birthday in Japan. The first few holidays that I passed were bittersweet; the excitement of the honeymoon phase of living abroad coupled with the lonely realization that all my loved ones were 6,000 miles away. I'd be lying if I said that this fact did not weigh heavily upon me prior to the day(s) of celebrating my continued existence. In all reality, this fact does not change throughout the year; there is no easy way for me to crack a beer and kick back with my friends back home; theoretically we could with Skype, but given a 16 hour time difference and busy lives, it's not easy.
Yuka-chan with an agemanjyu

      This is not to say that I'm alone; in fact, I have been blessed with a wonderful, supportive and loving group of friends who are as goofy and curious as I am. These wonderful people ensured that I did not sit at home pouting and overly analyzing the value of my continued existence alone. On the date of my birthday, my good friend Yuka took me to Sensoji temple in Asakusa. From there, we walked to the newly built and opened Sky Tree and the underlying shopping complex dubbed "SolaMachi", or "Solar-City", only to eventually wind up in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku, at an izakaya staffed by professional wrestlers. Quite a way to celebrate a quarter of a century of life, no?

bibimbap at Solamachi
Liver tataki at エビスコ

Chicken tataki at エビスコ

Kabukicho at night

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