In four days I will fly back to the Netherlands for a month. My last visit was in January, so it was about time. I have to, because my little brother is getting married, and of course I have to be there. The wedding is not in the Netherlands, by the way, but in the south of France. Good, we’ll fly there too.
Today I saw Jean-Jacques. The last time before I leave, and then not again for about five weeks. Riemer I didn’t see for months, but that’s different. That’s steady, I can plop down on the couch with him on Thursday and it’s like I haven’t been away at all. With Jean-Jacques it might be the same in five weeks, but I don’t know yet. (Jean-Jacques has assured me that he is not going anywhere, and besides, we have tickets for four concerts later this year, so this is purely in my head).
I’m sorry I’ve let this blog lapse lately, but I was writing my new book, and then I find it hard to post blogs as well. Focus and inspiration I only have a few hours a week anyway, and then the book takes priority. I was also busy with a webshop for Blossom Books, which you have already seen if you clicked on the link to my new book above. You can also pre-order it there, by the way.
There were people coming to Japan last month, too. Friends. And although I had been looking forward to that for a long time and had all kinds of ideas about it, in practice it turned out to be completely different than I had thought. The month went by like a daze; on the one hand it lasted forever, on the other hand it seemed as if I blinked my eyes and they were already gone. With Charlotte I went on a mini-trip to Sapporo, where I had already been last August. Then for Pokémon, this time for cherry blossoms. In northern Japan they bloom a month later, so that way we could still take the (press) photos we would have otherwise missed.
I also took photos with Maan as we walked through the Akihabara district. Looking for interesting walls and alleys, we found a photogenic subway station. Of course, this shooting day was also perfect for having a bite to eat together and catching up. I really do miss that. Of course, Zoom and FaceTime exist, but that’s not as real as a good face-to-face conversation.
On one of their last days here, I visited some thrift stores on the outskirts of Tokyo with Maan and partner Yves. Although it was raining hard that day, we returned with a hefty haul. I couldn’t get the stick vacuum cleaner that I saw that Friday, due to the aforementioned rain and my lack of suitcase or Ikea bag or anything else in which to transport the thing dry. But I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I picked it up on Sunday after all. It works a lot better than the old one, which died after about a minute of vacuuming.
With Maan and Yves, I also visited the Accidentally Wes Anderson exhibit: a photo exhibit from the Instagram account of the same name, which shares photos that look like they came straight out of a Wes Anderson movie.
In between, I booked myself a mini writing retreat, at my favorite hotel at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Or well, foot might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the station is called Fuji-san and so the mountain is visible from about everywhere.
It is only a short ride from Hachioji to Fuji, first taking the Azusa express train to Otsuki and then continuing on Fujikyu Railway over a cute, old, single-track line. Because of amusement park FujiQ, there are a lot of special and themed trains on the route, and when I went to the maglev test site with Charlotte earlier that month, to her delight, the Naruto train rolled in.
In the Azusa, I met a group of Dutch people, with whom I got to talking. It was all very pleasant until I lost them at Otsuki. It is always chaos there, because of all the tourists with a Japan Railpass coming from the Azusa (a train of Japan Railways) and having to buy a ticket and express surcharge at the scarce ticket machines of Fujikyu Railways (not a participant of the Japan Railpass). We had twenty minutes, but when it was finally my turn, I had passed the ticket office with my wrong ticket (yep, I was just such a stupid tourist) and was standing in the doorway of the train, the conductor gestured furiously for me to board. My new Dutch friends, whose names or social media or whatever I didn’t have, were still outside. Oops.
But it was Dutchy Day or something, because on the Fujikyu train I soon heard a familiar accent. It turned out to be a solo traveling Dutch girl named Lisa, with whom I spent the rest of the day walking through the village together.
How is my life here, now? It’s strange. I had waited so long for my friends to come, and then they were here, they left again, and I was waiting again. Like I keep thinking, “When will the party finally start?” I work hard to get and keep everything on track (for example, I fired my old accountant/tax consultant and had a three-hour meeting with the new one last week, where it turned out that it was a really good idea to fire the old one, because yikes…) but still just a little too often I’m sitting at home, alone, when I want to talk to someone or hang out on a couch somewhere. Like now, for example.
Earlier this week I decided to do more with this blog, once the book is finished. First, because it does me good, writing and going on adventures, and second, because then, at least I hope, it’s going to be a good addition to my book, and maybe even cause new people to discover and buy it. Of course once the book is launched in September it won’t be finished, no, miss Toeps is going to produce another English translation. Hopefully it will be finished before the holidays.
My next few weeks in The Netherlands are already pretty full. But even when I’m back in Japan after that, I hope to have a little more of a social live. If all goes well (and stays well – hi paranoia, that u?) I’ll get to see Jean-Jacques a bit more often, and we can also travel occasionally. In the fall I expect Riemer, and also Maan perhaps again. So actually there is quite a lot of fun to look forward to. Scary shit.