Here is a summary of my life since March: moved to Japan for a new job at a multinational corporation. Hated the job. Left the job (and company housing) mid-June for an offer I couldn’t refuse. Lived out of a suitcase in an empty room in Tokyo for 1.5 months. Moved to Kyoto, where I’m writing to you from, right now.
It was skin-meltingly hot in Kyoto for the first half of August, so hot that I scratched handfuls of skin and blood onto the floor every other day (eczema, it’s awful) and started popping antihistamines just to get to sleep. Besides the actual itching, though, there’s been another itch of a less literal kind: a wordless restlessness, and a reluctance to clean up my room, which for two weeks looked like my suitcase had thrown up all over it.
I’d been bouncing from place to place for the past year – from Malaysia to the States to Japan and all around again, mostly living out of a suitcase and in a perpetual state of anticipating the next time I’d be out on the road again. I didn’t even make it past 3 months at my first job (and if we’ve talked, you know how much I hated it) before diving into the next, and uprooting myself from Tokyo for a move out west. I’m not going to lie – it feels kind of weird, knowing that I’m definitely going to be in this place for the foreseeable future. It feels daunting to face building a life from scratch in a new place.
Being settled somewhere, though, has some wonderful perks to it, one of which is having a kitchen and a fridge. An actual fridge! In a kitchen with cupboard space! To which I have contributed: a permanent supply of cold-brewed coffee (plus accompanying coffee grounds for composting), a container of Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce, a Ziplock bag of vegetable scraps for stock, a kilogram of garlic, a container of bolognese sauce (very tasty, if I do say so myself), a soft ice cube tray, more seasonings and spices than I care to admit, a spice grinder, several large pots, many wooden spoons, a Microplane zester, scallion ends and carrot tops growing on the window sill. Let me tell you, as great as the food in Tokyo is, eating out almost every day for over a month really, really got to me (and my wallet). And there’s no faster way to feel at home than to break yourself in into the kitchen.
Another upside to living here in Kyoto – apart from the fact that it is a lovely old house in at the foot of a mountain, complete with an actual
jungle garden – is getting to live with a friend. Someone to watch TV series with at night, who eats all the food I cook and cleans up afterwards, who knows more about kimonos than I ever will. Someone who squeaks when she plays the piano, who makes funny faces at over work in the mornings, who knows the best places in this city and takes me cycling along the river to find delicious salads downtown. Someone who takes me on a 4-hour hike at Mount Atago at an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning.* I got really, really lucky with this one.
It’s taken a fortnight, but my room is starting to look a little less like a jungle, and the suitcase vomit now looks slightly more respectable than before. Speaking of not being on the move, though, funnily enough, I’ll be off to Hokkaido in a couple of days to hike through some mountains for 9 days or so. I say this as a non-hiker, and I’m dead nervous. But this time, I’ve got a more permanent
fridge home to come back to.
See you soon.
*That’s where most of the photos are from, here – it’s a beautiful place, although it’s better appreciated when you’re not panting like a dog.