I'm back in Tokyo for the summer, catching up with things here, seeing family, friends and colleagues etc. It's been a strange experience. 18 months have passed since my last visit to these shores, the longest I've ever been away from Japan, so it took a while to get back in the swing of things. At first everything felt completely surreal, it's a city I know so well yet somehow felt detached from. Memories haunted me for days, the sense of loss, not only of my darling wife (whose grave we visited last week), but my whole 21 year existence here. I missed a sense of purpose for being here, alone, re-kindling old memories, searching for something always slightly beyond my grasp.
These feelings eventually subsided after several days marching around the streets of Tokyo under the humid heat, chasing summer bargains (though with the £=¥ exchange rate now there are no real bargains!), visiting old places etc, bemoaning the disappearance of various favorite shops and restaurants. The heat has been a great equaliser - it takes all your mental energy just to get through the day. Oh yes, tis a corker of a summer here, midday can be completely debilitating, but evenings are wonderfully fresh.
Call me mad, but I must be one of the few people who actually like the Japanese summer. The buzz of the cicadas, the matsuri's, the fireworks, these are some of the key elements to Japan for me, I wouldn't miss them for the world. I carry a sensu around with me all day like a badge to show I'm here, in Tokyo, and proud, for the duration of the sauna weeks.
All in all I am enjoying myself immensely, its very very good to be back.