Japan is a country with a dwindling population, with more elderly than live births. However, looking at videos of rush hour train service and the famous Shibuya crossing, you might think that Japan’s population is huge! This is simply not the case.
Japan is an island with a terrain that is massively mountainous. As a result, the cities and towns that have livable terrain are densely populated. Hence why cities like Tokyo seem so full of people.
To combat this, the Japanese create cities that are vertical. This means that buildings, whether they are commercial or not, are built up. Even a super store like Costco (yes there is one in Japan) is made vertically. The parking deck is on top, while the escalators drop at about a hundred or so feet to the actual store below. Even the shopping carts, which are just as massive as they are in the States, are able to be placed on the escalators for ease.
Even with densely populated cities and vertical buildings, nature is not neglected. Tokyo has many parks and places full of green. The buildings also have places full of foliage too!
Believe it or not, but if you want peace and quiet from the bustling city, you don’t have to find parks or temples, you can simply go to the top of the biggest mall high rises.
Let’s take Futako Tamagawa, a city where I lived for a year while I taught abroad. Futako Tamagawa is located in Tokyo, and easily accessible from the Den-en-toshi line. With easy access to other places in Tokyo such as Shibuya, and Jiyugaoka.
This is a town for mainly families, as you can’t go far without seeing a mother and her child going about their day. There is a park where you can enjoy a stroll. However, during the day, it can be quite busy. I personally liked going to one of the malls called Rise. There are about four distinct malls in the center of town. You can’t miss it!
In rainy weather, you can go underground, which has a ton of eateries and shops. Yet, if you are in search of solitude, head to the top, and I mean the very top of the high rise mall. Since there are about four different malls, access to each roof top varies.
So, let’s start with the mall, Takashimaya.
With a unique design, this mall has several floors dedicated to shops, eateries, and a wonderful roof top terrace. As you can see, above the brown siding, there are many green shrubs and trees. You can access the roof from the elevator, or from inside via the escalator until you reach the top floor. There are small man made ponds and even a seating area. You may see some mothers with their children, but if you go in cold weather, you are more likely to find it absent of people all together.
You can also get to the mall from the street level via an outside escalator. Just traveling to the malls and navigating them is an adventure I am sure you can enjoy.
From Takashimaya’s rooftop, you can go into the main mall next to it and go up a few more floors from the elevator. These are positioned on the left side if you were to view the building from outside. Going up to the very top floor, you will notice the quiet, almost deafening sound of silence. Here is where many restaurants are located. (I’ll be sure to post a future article on the structure of the Japanese mall).
On this floor, in this particular building, there will only be a handful of restaurants, so there is little traffic. Go to the right from the elevator, and go towards the front of the building. From there, you will see perhaps two more elevators, which give you access to the rest of the mall. This area will only have two elevators and large windows. You can see the beauty of the landscape.
I didn’t know about this place until a week before I had to leave Japan. So I am sure to stop here in the future. There will be no place to sit here, so if you don’t mind being on the floor, sit and relax in complete solitude. Or until someone tells you, you can’t be there.
Looking at the picture above, you can see the brown windows of the mall I mentioned earlier. The building I am in now is taller. This building also has a green rooftop terrace a few floors down. Their rooftop leads to the one in Takashimaya. Basically they’re both linked.
Now, if you go down the elevator from where I am, you can go all the way down to the street level. Across the street, you may see KFC. On the left of that, is the area that leads to the train station if you were to make a right. You will also be on the low level of the mall called Dogwood Plaza, located to your left. This mall has several floors and includes many stores, and restaurants. The restaurants are located on the top floor. There is no roof access here.
If you go further into the area that is close to the train station, but keep going forward, you will eventually pass a bus terminal. Going forward you will encounter stairs. Go up and look to the left or right.
In this picture, you are coming from the bus terminal and you can go up more stairs to the left or right. From there you can choose the roof top which usually has little to no people. I suggest the stairs to the right above the movie theater. There are high winds so please be careful. There is also a seating area that many people use for quiet relaxing time. Rarely will you have someone on the phone, or using the space to hang out with friends. So if you don’t mind people being around, this can also be a place of quiet comfort.
If you need another place to relax alone, there is an open seating area not on a roof, but going towards the park. Come from the bus terminal, and keep going straight. Looking below, you can see the area is not very busy. Usually this area is empty even with people walking around. The seats are the grey round mounds on the ground. Awkward at first to sit on, they are not too bad. If you have a bad back, I suggest finding somewhere else to sit.
Many cities offer these types of quiet places of refuge. However, Futako Tamagawa is different in that this place is mainly for families and has little to no tourists. So it is not actually as crowded as other places. Going about your day is easy.
Going through the area on the weekend can be a bit more challenging than the weekday. However, I aways say explore and see what you can find. There are always nooks for lonely people, and you never know what you can find.
I hope you enjoyed my post, I hope you can use it for the future. Also, any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.
As I lay in bed, staring at the wooden ceiling, I can’t help but think of the old decor. The rustic windows, the floorboards weak from overuse. That smell of dust and dry air. I cling to the soft plushness of my comforter. My head burrows itself into the pillow as my feet bunch up the ends of the covers for warmth. It is particularly cloudy tonight, so there is little natural moon light. The room seems so dark and full of question. My mind races with the thought of what could be. I can barely see anything, so here I wait for sleep to come.
As I drift away to a solemn slumber, a noise stirs my body into consciousness. A bit annoyed, I soon delve into fear as I remember my entire family is on this floor, and not above. With my skin breaking into gooseflesh beneath the covers, I try to establish some reality. The house is old and at times, will create noise from the wood and worn out places.
I try to convince myself of this, and close my eyes to fall asleep. Then, I hear another sound, a breath. Try as I might to convince myself it is only my mind, I open my eyes to see a pair of dark ones staring back at me!
I scream, loud, until it screams too. It is my younger sister. She is covered in darkness, while begging me to let her stay. I sit up, and tell her to leave, but I must admit, I would like the company.
So here we are, one adult and almost adult sharing a bed. Tucked in close, so close that I feel her quivering flesh. I too must feel the same. I tell her to stop shaking, but she can’t.
She asks me if I can hear it. I ask her hear what? She tells me it is whispering. I don’t bother to ask what it is. I turn my body over and ball myself up like a small child. She still shakes, but soon my eyes become heavy, and I awake in a room bathed in sunlight.
It is daytime, finally. After getting dressed, and going down stairs, I see our maids, Hilda, and Beatrice. The cook, Rose, prepares a variety of egg omelets. I ask them if they’ve seen my sister. When I awoke, she wasn’t in bed with me. But they say they haven’t seen her since yesterday.
During breakfast, my parents eat while their eyes dig through their phones. It is a regular morning, silent and impersonal. I ask them if they’ve seen her. Who, they ask. My sister, I say. With their eyes firmly on their devices, they simply say, no.
She is seventeen, and has a habit of doing what she wants. But we are at a summer retreat in our grandparents home. I didn’t think she would be so eager to break free with all her friends being so far away. Yet, regardless of this, my parents do nothing, but make excuses. She is simply a brat doing rebellious teenage things, they say.
After eating, I go upstairs to see if she went back to her room. Why I didn’t think of this first is beyond me. Upon entering her room, I see nothing but a messy bed, and not much else. I don’t even smell her perfume, something she would put on before leaving, or anything out of place. I close the door and walk out to see an empty hallway. At one end, a window, from the right, a stairway leading down. To the left, a stairway leading up. On the other end of the hallway, a door.
I go towards the window and to the right downstairs. As I leave, I do so with the ache in my mind that something is not quite right…
The following is a short story. Part two A Stranger Upstairs
Author is Jasmine Clark. The work is fiction, and shall not be published, or sampled without the author’s permission.
When the cold air chills, it is time to reflect.
I think about what I’ve done, and what I want to accomplish.
Here, 2 years ago, I was in Japan working and planning a life as a writer.
Due to reality, I have to merge my lifelong passion with teaching.
Don’t get me wrong, teaching is a lifelong passion of mine too.
Yet, I’ve done so much in terms of teaching and working with children.
Writing has always taken a back seat, and I can’t stand it!
Balancing life with two big goals is tough, but I must do what is best in the long run.
I completed all four of my tests for teaching, and applied to a college to complete some classes.
Now I wait while my application is in the wind.
I also applied for a few jobs. I do plan on applying for more jobs in other districts.
With this part of my life at a decent standstill, I now look towards my other passion, writing…
It is not easy to stay motivated.
I know I know, what is up with your writing!
I have to admit that I am a bit scatterbrain with many of my posts.
The idea is for you to look at these personal posts as an opening into my mind, my personal journal if you will.
It’s not polished, is what I’m basically trying to say.
So, about my motivation with writing…
I find it harder to stay with it than when I was in Japan.
You see, in Japan I worked from 10:30am to 7:30pm. I had zero energy during my work days.
On Saturday nights, I often slept around 1 or 2 in the morning after hanging out with friends, or washing my clothes. So by Sunday, I had personal time.
It’s really funny that, as tired as I was, and as much as I wanted to rest on my days off, I did the most work.
I would write for hours on Sundays, in a public cafe!
However, the time had nothing to do with my motivation, it was my mindset.
You see, as tired as I was, and as much as I didn’t like some aspects of my job in Japan, I was really happy.
Happy to be in Japan! Happy to be a classroom teacher, happy to have a social life and actual friends, happy to go out and meet people, even date (although I was always friend zoned ).
Overall, I was really at peace.
Now that I am in America, I don’t have any of those things, and quite honestly, it disturbs my calm.
It makes it hard to get out of bed. I have way more days off than before due to my current job, and I still don’t write.
It is a rut I hope can just end.
I wish I could just say “be inspired dummy and go for your dream of writing!” but if you’ve ever dealt with anyone with certain mental illnesses, then you know it is a lot harder than just believing you can do it. You have to feel it inside out.
What I’m trying to say is that I feel like I’m in a daze. I have aspirations, but in my current mental state, I just can’t seem to shake off this sad feeling. It’s a heavy feeling. One that seems to keep me from doing too much.
Believe me, I am trying not to go in full despair mode! I am actively getting closer to getting my teaching certification. It’s just, with all my sad feelings, doing all of these tests, and preparations for my teaching cert., I just don’t have enough “energy” for anything else.
Have you ever felt this way?
Anywho, I hope a meditation app helps. I can’t really talk to others, they don’t seem to get it.
That’s ok, it’s my burden anyway.
I just hope that with a new job, it can give me some of what made me happy when I was in Japan. I’ll wait and see about that. Oh, and I’ll of course keep you posted.
Hold me like the bass
Tighten your embrace
Strum along my straps like strings
Tap the thighs and feel the warmth it brings
Humming along with your falsetto
Bring me closer, yes, here we go
Pull in for the breath
Exhale, slow and even
Raspy as the motion flows
Together we crescendo
Our voices intertwined
Still, heavy, motionless
Beat by beat, we fill the air
Take me there, take me there
again, so here we go
An encore of lust
What more shall I want?
What more shall we do?
It hits me
Like that sound of your voice when you go higher than high
Hitting those notes of everlasting sorrow
Flowing like the hiss of the saxophone
Vibrating, echoing out into the room
Entering and exiting through ears
Drawing hearts nearer to the sweet feel of…
I am entranced
I am in love
I am yours
But as I scan the room with my lovelorn eyes
I see that I am not the only one with this feeling
There has been a spell
A spell you put on us
They are unaware of their capture
Caught up in their lustful rapture
Despair fills me with dread
But soon those notes that I adore fill the air
I am pulled back into your trance
Unable to, or unwilling to leave the embrace
You have us now and that is certain
I must admit that I am foolish
But where else could I get this feeling
Where else could I be this in love
Where else would I want to be?
The answer is
Hello Groovy People,
It has been a while since I made my last entry. I have been busy of sorts with taking tests, teaching origami, and resting.
I have great news, I have passed two of my tests and I have two more to go!
That is not why I write this entry today.
I have been going back and forth for over a decade with my space book. It was something that was inspired by two very different things:
I know what you’re thinking, how can a Foo Fighters album influence a story? Well, when I listen to music I often imagine people, places, and situations. It can be a love story or an action fight scene that plays out in my head.
The album I mentioned was bought while I was in high school over 15 years ago. I only bought it for one song, Everlong. However, during a trip to Six Flags Great Adventure, I had the entire album play as I sulked; I was 19 at that time and hated going to an amusement park.
Luckily for me, hearing that album play gave me an idea of a space tale that centered around two cheeky girls, and a hell of a lot of intergalactic adventures.
Of course, years went by and I scraped most of what I had. I had finished the entire book, but it was so unfocused that the abrupt end was confusing even to myself.
I decided to reboot it of sorts like I did with Journey’s End. I must say that it is much better with a more fleshed out story. I am nowhere near finished, but I’ll keep you updated!
You know, who you really are.
People will respect you, honor you, value the truth of your own being.
But only if it fits what we value, what we accept, what we cherish and accept as normal
Be yourself, but don’t be too funny, too silly, too honest, too good, to nice, unbitchy, unsnooty, unpretentious, unbothered.
Be yourself, but don’t be too different, be like us, because we only like what we are used to, we only like what reminds us of ourselves.
Be yourself, because it will make you happy, but don’t upset us, or offend us, or make us feel uncomfortable.