After weeks of Wu Wei on my little island and almost at the end of my budget, nevertheless still willing to settle down in Asia I have one more idea - to find work in Japan. As I heard from some people, the chances for German or English speaking people to get work as language teachers are supposed to be fairly good. I even got the invitation of a Japanese friend to stay in his flat in Tokyo for a while. Well then, I shoulder my Backpack, go to Bangkok and my aeroplane to Japan. In the early morning hours I can see the white top of mount Fuji glisten in the rising sun out of the plane. What a view!
I am well accommodated in Tokyo and have good fun with my friends, who are introducing me to the city, teaching me some Japanese & showing me how to survive with a few Yen in one of the most expensive places in the world.
Life in Tokyo is unbelievable, the crowds of people rushing through the train stations and all the city centres like Shibuya or Shinjuku with no obvious friction. The perfect maschine. Timing is everything. This the Opel-managers already tried to teach me years ago - phrases like "Chioto jikan ni" - Just in Time - were often used in the plant I was working in.
I make fliers for English lessons that I distribute in front of a university. Not much of a financial success, but a new acquaintance. After two weeks without earning a Yen I decide to move on, discover a bit more of Japan.
By train I go out of Tokyo. In the pouring rain and with the backpack on my shoulders I climb up to mount Takao. It is foggy in the forest, sweat runs down on me in rivers but I do enjoy the physical practise. The temple on top of the mountain is beautiful, just like one can imagine to ancient times here in Japan. In my mind I am a Zen priest or a Samurai and even though I don't understand much of the Japanese Characters written everywhere life feels great in this very moment! After days in the big city I am happy to be back in the nature again. The home made bread form last the day before tastes great up here.
A little later I hitchhike to Kofu in the Yamanashi district. When I arrive in the evening I share my remaining bread with the homeless on the train station and get a place to sleep offered by them, on a bench inside the station, later on I meet a Nepalese man in a bar who offers me a bed for a night. We talk about computers and Japanese girls all night. =)
In a small village not far away from Kofu I find a really nice accommodation, a traditional style house with Shojis and Tatamis inside and a nice Bamboo tree outside. The owner speaks English and German fluent. He plays Bach on his Keyboard and reads German books. We have wide platform for communication. =) I see Fuji again, right behind corner. Together we cycle to Kofu to visit his friends in a German bakery. Just one problem I have here, I cannot get money on the banks here. So I help in my landlords household and garden instead. I even get a job offer, to teach kids in a kinder garden for two hours a day but too much I doubt if this was the right thing to do. So I go on, in the shining morning sun and in the best mood down to Kyoto.
Hitchhiking works out very well, carpenters take me down to Shizuoka and showing me the Green tea plantings uphill before dropping me off at the central park of Shizuoka where I have a rest. Then I walk on, cross the city to reach a motorway. People I meet on the street smile, me too. A couple in a huge Mercedes picks me up and take me almost to Nagoya, telling me about Japanese traditions and sweeties. A seed reseller brings me close to the Sekigahara area. After a day almost only speaking Japanese I feel tired but since it is still bright outside I dare it, try to make the last kilometres to Kyoto. It works out, an old Japanese almost drives me to the train station in Kyoto. The next day it rains & I spent a few hours in the Osaka library, where a big bunch of homeless seeks shelter from the miserable weather too.
When it stops raining I go for a walk around Osaka and end up in a bar that was recommend to me already in Thailand. After a long abstinence I got drunk from just three beers. I spent the night at the train station first, but later on decide to stay out. Coffee in the Christo bar at 2 AM. Enlightening and warm. I decide to watch sunrise from the coastline, but on the way there I meet a guitarist and his drunken friends outside the subway station. He ruins two more of the strings of his guitar when playing his songs for me. We sing anyway and have a good time, Friday morning at 6 AM =). Another Japanese I meet when actually watching the sunrise from a subway bridge. He is watching the sunrise as well, and after some chat he invites me for breakfast and shower in the flat of his girlfriend. This recovers me fairly well & since the weather is fine I decide to visit Osaka castle. In the park surrounding the castle there are big settlements of those blue plastic tents, where the homeless live. At least they have a nice park here, unlike the homeless in Tokyo, sleeping on the concrete riverbanks of Sumida or beside the subway lines. Victims of the once prospering Japanese economy. Oi toi de - other topic...
I watch the morning exercise of a chapter of the Japanese army and contemplate about the sense of all the screams of their leader, almost willing to participate. After visiting Hideyoshi's main tower I finally do require a rest. I am lucky, I get a nice sunny park bench a little bit away. After a while I am back alive, stay a little longer beside a nice pond and enjoy the peace and harmony of moment and place.
In Kyoto I stay for a few nights at my Swiss friends place who gives me good tips for getting around in Kyoto, the job opportunities and leisure activities. I apply for another job in a kinder garden and while waiting for their decision stroll around Kyoto, watching temples or hanging out in the Goethe institute reading library or using their internet. At night time I am often at the river Kamogawa banks, where the young Japanese drink and play music or start fireworks. In a youth hostel I get a few travellers to know, students from Australia or new Zealand with working permit visas and quite good Japanese skills from school. With two of them I go for a walk to Gijon, the Geisha quarters, and later up the hill. Last night in Kyoto we go out again, going down badly on beers and Absinth. =) I don't get the job in the kinder garden, and so I decide to go back to Tokyo where I have at least a place to stay. Sayonara Kyoto!
By Shinkansen I go back to Tokyo. I have a few more excursions in and around Tokyo and try to get work. An invitation to a nice birthday party of a friend. Finally, on the last evening I met a young lady I am writing emails with since I am in Japan. We have coffee in the Tokyo twin towers, watch the sneak preview of "Hulk" and have a good diner. No job, no money so I decide to go back to where it all begun - back to germany. What remains are the memories of a great time, good friends who helped me a lot in Japan. Doumo arrigato. Matane. So omou imasu. =)