So, as it approaches 4pm Japanese time, I have had a pretty busy day.
Jet lag and my confused body clock saw me awake at the crack of dawn, and able to start my Tokyo tour early in the morning.
My plan was this: Get to know the main stations that I’ll need to use in Tokyo before I have meetings, so that next week isn’t a huge, stressful, chaotic dash about this humongous city. I also thought I could be a bit of a tourist, and do some good praying as I travelled about.
So, that’s what I’ve done today.
Tried to get my head around Tokyo. A bit.
Prayed as I travelled about. A lot.
I brought a travel pass for the JR Yamanote Line (think London’s Circle Line type idea, but around Tokyo) and set off from Takadanobaba (my local station) just before 9am.
I stopped off at Harajuku to get breakfast and go and visit the Meiji Shrine that Aiko was telling me about yesterday. I thought that would be a good place to pray!!
I then hopped on a few stops to Shinagawa, as that’s a station I’m going to need to know pretty well for transfers.
Then onto Yurakucho for lunch in the Ginza district.
Followed by a stop off at Tokyo Station to check out some of the offices I’m at for Tuesday’s meetings (Tokyo Station is MASSIVE by the way!)
Then a look/prayer walk round Ikebukuro.
And finally, back to Takadanobaba for a much needed coffee shop visit 🙂
So, I did the full Tokyo circuit, pushed myself to attempt to order things in lots of shops, and prayed lots of prayers.
A few things, some profound and some not so much, are in my mind right now.
1) There are SO many people here! Every coffee shop, every train, every street, is packed. It’s busy, noisy and bustling. And as I sat on a train circling the city and passed housing block after housing block after housing block, I couldn’t help but feel a bit overwhelmed about just how few Christians there are in this gigantic populace. They say that numerically, for every 1000 people you pass on a Japanese street, maybe two will be Christians. That sounds a bit abstract when you’re sitting in the UK, but when you are here, passing the thousands in overflowing crowds in every district, that’s a very real picture that really drives you to pray. So please do pray, and remember that Jesus’ heart longs for the people of Japan.
2) My language ability has so far to go!! Now, this is less new revelation, and more confirmation of what I already knew… My reading is ok… My speaking needs serious practice… And serious prayer!! Again, please pray for me in this! I’m at that place where trying to formulate what I want to say in Japanese is really hard, even though my vocab knowledge is reasonable. It’s a dot-joining-in-my-brain-and-then-reaching-my-mouth thing!
3) I’m not short here!! Nor am I tall. My 5 foot 2 stature is probably about average. But it’s amazingly different to be able to give most people eye contact when you’re used to staring at people’s shoulder-height back home. I know, that one’s not so profound is it?!
4) There are vending machines… EVERYWHERE!! I mean, everywhere. Tokyo is so busy and eclectic anyway, so it’s not like there’s a shortage of cafes or restaurants or bars… But you cannot go one block without seeing at least 3 vending machines. I counted. For me, this is just one simple example of some of the apparent contrasts here. This is a place so advanced in so many ways, with such a rich cultural heritage, and yet there is so much that doesn’t make sense to me. Today alone there were two fatalities from suicide victims on the rail line I was on. Ikebukuro was home to the most fantastic malls and restaurants, but again, I saw a place on every side street where you could buy a girl in some capacity. And for all the wealth and lights and impressive structures, that reality has a deep sadness attached to it. Back to point number 1. Please keep praying.
Anyway, I’m shattered, so with that, I will leave you with some photographic evidence of my travels before going off in search of some sushi!!