The Afternoon of Social Distancing

Well, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

Here in Tokyo, we’ve been working from home for 2 months now.

At first it was great, mostly because our tech was not up to par and the VPN access was unreliable. So while waiting for that connection, I made coffee in the morning, cooked meals, did the laundry, watered my plants, went on walks. I’d never been home for such long hours and it was really nice getting to do things during the day.

But then, work became really busy. It’s one thing to be busy during normal times, it was completely another when we were still trying to adjust working from home. With the added stress of having to pull together a new team starting this April, the pressure was real and it felt quite isolating at times.

Now a few months in, we have a better communication framework in place and our team has adjusted, though I’m learning it’s all part of a process.

Some days are good, some days aren’t.

Slowly learning to work through it, and hoping it doesn’t leave me with a bald spot on my head like last year. Not the greatest look for me, really.

There’s a temple I stop by sometimes on my way to or from the grocery store, which is pretty much the only place I go nowadays.

I’ve always liked this spot but now it’s my go-to place to relax. They have a bench on the premises and usually no one is there, which makes it the perfect place to take in the sunshine, the quiet…just to breathe.

My favorite social distancing spot.

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The Picnic at Shinjuku Gyoen

Sunday was the perfect day for an afternoon picnic, especially when it meant catching up with my favorite creative girl from New York while she was in town.

The great thing about Shinjuku Gyoen is that it’s never too crowded (well, maybe except for hanami season) and it really is a green oasis in the middle of the city. The warm fall sun and cool breeze felt amazing as we spent the afternoon chatting away.

I wish I had more days like this. It’s so relaxing and nothing beats being with friends.

But all too soon, the melody signifying the park closing began to play…so we packed up and stepped back outside into the city.

Just a side note, did you know that the song that notifies people of facilities closing here sounds like Auld Lang Syne, but it’s actually the Farewell Waltz from the old movie Waterloo Bridge? I mean, that song is also based on Auld Lang Syne so technically it’s the same thing. But who knew that this tragic movie was so popular in Japan that the soundtrack was used as a way to let people know that something is ending?

The things you learn when you’re fact checking your blog post.

Anyways, I didn’t really take all that many photos (too busy talking as always) but here are a few smiles from our picnic 🙂

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The Breakfast at Veselka

You know you have a good friend when they’ll wake up at the crack of dawn to have breakfast with you when you’re in town.

We decided to meet up at Veselka in the East Village. Leave it to New York to have a 24 hour Ukrainian diner and let me tell you, it was was amazing. (Remind me, I need to find a Ukrainian place in  Tokyo!)

I love catching up with a grade school friends and it always tickles me to no end when I realize that we’re both grown ups now. I mean, when did that happen?

After breakfast, I took the train back to my hotel, which I’d been wanting to do forever. Work trips usually mean we have a car service but I’d heard and read about so many people complaining about how horrible the subway in New York was, I had to try it.

But train ride was smooth sailing all the way to Grand Central Station, with no delays, accidents, or crazy people. This unfortunately meant no subway horror stories to take back with me.

Ah well, maybe next time?

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The Afternoon in Brooklyn

We landed in JFK before noon and and headed straight out to find food.

There were multiple calls for burgers so we settled on this little nook in Brooklyn called James, since it was just down the road from our destination.

It always takes me a minute to get used to American service, which includes a LOT more conversation than Japan. Not that it’s a bad thing, just different. Japanese service means I tend to jump straight into ordering, especially when we’re all starving, but then I remember that saying hello and all that small talk jazz are part of the American culture and adjust accordingly 🙂

After our delicious brunch we headed out to see a little bit more of Brooklyn.

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The American Football Game in Kawasaki

So Japan apparently has an American Football league.

My friend got tickets and so I got to tag along. I have to say, when we got there, there were actually a surprising number of people in the stands cheering the teams on.

That was until the half time show, where a bunch of energetic kids did their cheer routine and we quickly realized that over half of the people were the parents, waiting to take photos of their kids performances.

Needless to say, there were a few more seats available in the second half of the game.

We had a great time though!

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The Community Station KITAKITA

When you have a place like this to wait for the airport shuttle bus, it doesn’t even matter that you have almost an hour to kill after getting off the local train.

Community Station KITAKITA is not only a cafe, but also part architectural design firm and part share space. The two designers that operate the space mentioned that they also rent out the open space for events. They were nice enough to show me around the renovated space because I was pretty curious as to how they changed the layout.

Isn’t the space beautiful?

I was only there to pass the time before heading to the airport, but I learned about other interesting places in the Kita Akita area that made me wish I had more time here. Just another reason for me to come back, I guess!

If you’re ever in the area, stop by for a cup of coffee or just to chat with the friendly designers 🙂

Here are some photos: 

 
 
 
 
 
 
3-18 Matsuba-cho, Kita Akita-shi, Akita JAPAN
秋田県北秋田市松葉町3-18
OPEN: 10:00am-6:00pm (closed Sun & Wed / varies by month, check website!)
ACCESS: right across from Takanosu Station on the JR Ou Main Line