- On 4th August 2017
- In Tokyo Tales
The Journey to Tokyo
Today marks 11 years since Mac, Founder of Maction Planet, moved to Tokyo. He reflects on his journey to a life in The World’s Greatest Metropolis.
Today, 11 years ago, I moved to Japan. It really was today – it is once again Friday 4th August. It is a day when I like to reflect on over a decade of adventures in Tokyo. Where to begin? Like any good comic book, let’s start with the origin story.
I first came to Japan in June 2002 for 19 days and followed England around during the World Cup. A three-week Japan Rail Pass, the energy that came with being younger (meaning that a night’s sleep could be compressed into a two hour bullet train ride from, for example, Kyoto to Tokyo) and the geographic dispersal of the team’s games (Saitama. Sapporo, Osaka, Niigata) meant that I got to see a lot of the country. I visited Tokyo, Urawa, Nikko, Sapporo, Hakodate, Sendai, Yamagata, Niigata, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and several places in between.
It was a truly incredible time, and each day brought new adventures. I was interviewed on Russian, Japanese and UK television (twice). Japan’s Fuji TV made me do 4 takes of slurping ramen and saying ‘Oishiiiii‘ (delicious) loudly and ‘with passion’. Nothing changes.
Suffice to say, I fell in love with the country, especially Tokyo. I returned to the UK and started planning my move here.
At the time, I was in the middle of studying for a series of professional exams. The desire to live in Tokyo was so great that I was tempted to quit these and move straight here. Exercising a lot of self-restraint, I decided that this was not the smartest move, and delayed the gratification until after I completed them. The extra motivation I now had helped me race through the remainder of the papers and I qualified in November 2005. After two weeks of celebrating, I started looking for jobs in Tokyo. I had some phone interviews with various companies beginning in January 2006, and in April 2006 one flew me out for seven back-to-back interviews. I got the job. I signed that evening. I celebrated with my new boss until 5am the next morning. I missed my 11am flight, waking up 30 minutes after the plane had departed. I sheepishly headed downstairs from my hotel room and was assisted by the concierge who greeted me by name – we had met seven hours previously as he was beginning his shift that morning and I was returning after my celebratory night out.
Flights successfully moved, I flew back the next day, landed in London, headed straight to my office and handed in my notice.
The next three months flew by. I will never forget the excitement of heading to the Japanese Embassy on Piccadilly to submit my papers for my visa. Although the anticipation rose daily, it was a period of reflection, and I knew that the hardest part would be saying goodbye to the people closest to me. My friends were incredibly supportive, and I am truly honoured that all of them kept the promise they made to visit me in my new home.
My final night in London was spent at the Great British Beer Festival at Earl’s Court. As you can see, the love of craft beer goes back a long way!
I landed in Tokyo at 9am on Friday 4th August 2006. I went straight from Narita Airport to pick up the keys to my flat from the accommodation agency. While sitting signing contracts I glanced around and saw a sign saying “Do you like dancing?”. I inquired as to what this meant. This led to me being introduced to Yu, my first friend in Tokyo and still one of my closest anywhere. 30 hours later I was participating in my first festival – the Nakameguro Awaodori. I did not expect to be wearing a traditional matsuri happi and dancing in the streets of Tokyo one day after landing. But there is something about the city and its energy that makes you do many things you never thought you would. And you never look back.
The adventures continued thick and fast. Three weeks later I went to my first Tokyo Yakult Swallows baseball game – a sayonara 5-4 victory against the Yokohama Baystars.
The rest, as they say, is history. Phenomenal, inspiring, unforgettable, legendary history.
Some thank yous are in order. Thank you to everyone who supported me on the journey to get here. Thank you to my friends around the world who have come to visit in Tokyo, or met me wherever I am on my world travels. Thank you to my family in the UK for being so wonderfully accommodating. Thank you to my friends in Tokyo, new and old, who continue to help make this the best place on the planet to live.
Thank you to our guests. Without you, there would be no Maction Planet. It was our word of mouth customers over the last six years that persuaded me to set up this website and open up our services to the world. Thank you for choosing us as your preferred Tokyo Private Tour and custom travel provider. Thank you for your amazing reviews of our services. Our overriding goal is to share our love of this city with the world, be it through our tours, experiences, blog, radio shows or T-shirts. I am deeply honoured that so many people have joined us on this journey.
A senryu I wrote 10 years ago, and the photo at the head of this post, are still the closest I have come to summing up my feelings for The World’s Greatest Metropolis:
Watashi no kokoro
Koko ni aru
“Tokyo; my heart is here”