Friday, May 24, 2024

Life in Tokyo - Two old friends and a new wife

It takes time to make friends in Tokyo, however, when you do, you tend to keep them. I first arrived in Japan many years ago and non-Japanese were so thin on the ground, you'd cross the road to say "hello" if you saw one. Young school kids would run up and touch me and run off laughing because they'd engaged a "foreigner". I even once signed an entire train carriage of school kids' note books as they queued up to ask for an English signature. But the friends you make, you keep.

And so, in the last week, I've caught up with two old friends. One absent from Japan for five years (remembering our doors were closed for three of those) and one for fifteen (he's the one with the new lovely wife if you were wondering). The door closure here lasted longer than many countries and although I have Permanent Residency (they'd lock me up rather than throw me out) the Government made it clear that, in the instance I flew out for any reason, I probably wouldn't be allowed back. I have friends who were stuck away from homes, friends and careers for over two years.

But the doors did re-open (somewhat chaotically) in May 2023. The online registration system didn't work for many people and arrival at the airport you were greeted by two signs, one, if you've registered your Japan vaccinations  you went to the right and the alternative might as well have said "lepers this way". But things are getting back to normal, the tourists are back which is good for businesses and, given the pain they went through for nearly three years, I'm not going to complain. But flight ticket prices remain more than twice pre-pandemic. But I was glad to see my friends. Welcome back.

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