I have three friends living in Japan right now. Samantha has been one of my dearest friends since elementary school. She and her husband, Mason, both work for the US Navy. Josh and Liz were both in church with me in my early twenties. They got married, Josh finished dental school, and now he is a dentist for the US Navy. It just so happened that they all ended up in Japan at the same time making this year the perfect time to visit!
I bought my ticket several months ago but never got around to planning my trip. I REALLY wanted to spend the week cherry blossom hunting, but it was a warm winter in Japan, so the cherry blossoms, or sakura, bloomed early. The full bloom only lasts about a week, and since I can’t control mother nature, this left me horribly disappointed when I started seeing all the pictures on Facebook and Instagram a week or two before my arrival.
Just hours before leaving for the airport, I STILL hadn’t booked any accommodations or sketched out my week. I finally sat down to plan and only booked my first two nights in Tokyo.
I was in a sour mood. Tired. Truly exhausted. I didn’t want to get on the plane and I didn’t want to be a tourist for a week. Earlier that afternoon when I tried to do online check-in, it said that my flight had either been cancelled or completed. Part of me was outraged at the complication, and part of me thought, “Well…would it be so bad?” I just wanted to lay on my couch and snuggle my cat. This doesn’t usually happen to me, but I knew that once I got on my way, it would be fine. I sorted everything out and off I went.
I arrived at Narita airport on Saturday night. After I went through passport control and claimed my bag, I found an ATM (out the arrival doors, and to the left down the hall), then went downstairs for the train towards my hostel.
Come morning, however, I was still in no mood to travel. Before meeting Samantha and Mason for the day, I decided it would be best to start with a walk through the Shinjuku Garden. It only cost 200 yen to enter and once I did, I immediately felt better.
It was in that garden that I got my one and only glance of the cherry blossom season. Did I see all the famous cherry blossom spots I had hoped to see? No. I didn’t even bother trying. But that morning in the park by myself, watching everyone happily take pictures and sitting in a sea of pink petals, was therapeutic.
More and more I discover how important it is to be surrounded by trees and flowers when I’m feeling rotten. It didn’t psyche me into a week of playing the busy tourist, but it put things in perspective. I went to Japan to see my friends and enjoy Spring, both of which I definitely did. Just because you go somewhere new doesn’t mean you have to run around and experience everything imaginable. Sometimes you need to just sit, enjoy flowers, and eat sushi with your friends while you laugh and catch up.