- On 4th August 2022
- In Tokyo Tales
My 16 year Japanniversary
Sixteen years ago today, I moved to Tokyo.
I celebrate my anniversary on the day I arrived, not the day I flew out. Damn timezones. On this day, 16 years ago, I landed at Narita Airport at 09:10, on a flight from London Heathrow paid for by my new employer. I had spent the previous 12 hours staring out the window, reflecting on the biggest decision I had made in my 27-year life. Oh, and watching some movies.
When I was 23, I decided I was going to move to Tokyo one day. It was only the second time in my life (the first being deciding to go to Warwick University instead of Cambridge) when I had a deep visceral intuition that… I needed to go for it: take the plunge, make a move and trust that it would all turn out OK. Sixteen years later, I’m glad I did. It’s risks like these that can lead to exponential rewards, transformative experiences and profound self-growth.
Tokyo has shaped, challenged, rewarded, moved, and inspired me. Being here has taught me about ambition, continuing to transform and never accepting the status quo. And that’s because Tokyo herself is constantly evolving.
I’ve developed a deep love for Tokyo. It runs through my blood. I still – often – find myself saying to myself, or to anyone who’ll hear, “I’m so lucky this is home”. I still delight in seeing that one-of-a-kind cityscape. I still smile when I experience a memorable day in the city. I still find joy in exploring the unknown here. The ability to always have something new to see, taste, and explore thrills me. No two days in my 16 years living in Tokyo have been the same. That’s one reason I always tell Maction Planet tour guests that we’ve never led the same itinerary twice. If you’re doing it right in Tokyo, that’s not even possible.
My life in Tokyo has unfolded in chapters. I’ve lived in four different apartments, all in Shibuya-ku. Friends have come and gone, and some have been here throughout. I’ve held three corporate jobs. This year marks five years of self-employment running (now) two brands – Maction Planet and Kanpai Planet.
After setting up Maction Planet in 2017, I would have typically spent today guiding visitors to Tokyo and beyond. Of course, that all came to a halt in April 2020.
I’ve stayed here in Tokyo throughout the pandemic, and I have mourned the changes to the city over the past 28 months. The lives that were taken. The friends who have left. The businesses that have shuttered. The jobs that were lost.
I cannot wait until the city’s magic is 100% back, and that will only happen when the city welcomes free, independent travellers again.
There is finally visibility that that may happen relatively soon, and 2023 will see my city welcome visitors without restriction again. With that, I begin my 17th year in Tokyo, full of hope.
I’ve often said that there is something empowering about knowing you’re living in the right place. I feel so grateful to 23-27 year old me for trusting my gut, taking a risk, and diving into the unknown. If you’re still searching, I hope you find whatever you are looking for.
I love this city with all my heart. It is home. Here’s to 16 years in Tokyo, and I hope many more…
4 August 2022