Here’s a book I bought online on impulse last April, days after me and my family arrived home from our week-long romp in Japan, thinking it would somehow give me something to hang on to while I deal with the hangover. It arrived about two weeks later. In the interim, I picked up Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. I picked it up for the same reason.
Two months later and the hangover is still there. In fact, it has transmogrified into something else, something more powerful — a heart-wrenching, almost debilitating longing that I can’t seem to shake off my system. It seems like every time I close my eyes these days I can see Japan. The mind’s eye travels back to the wonderful places we visited during our stay there, reliving the experience from the moment we arrived at Narita to the sad day of departure. It’s all there, in vivid colors, behind my eyelids.
Perhaps that’s the reason why it took me a while to write something here. The past few weeks had been full of stuff I could’ve written something about if only I had the mental energy for it — that masterpiece that was Avengers: Endgame, the wreck that was Game of Thrones’ final season, and that pathetic political circus called the midterm elections. But every time I’d try to put my thoughts on the screen, my mind would drift off and I’d lose interest, and I’d pick up the Murakami book instead, or watch the countless videos about Japan on YouTube, and feel that now all too familiar tug in the heartstrings.
My wife, who is experiencing the same thing, has taken to studying Nihonggo in Makati City on weekends. My daughter, meanwhile, finds solace in countless hours of Roblox. Me, I busy myself with work and toy photography and comics and TV series/movies. Still, at night, or in the wee hours while preparing for work, I couldn’t help but think of Japan. How’s it like to raise a family there, enjoy order and discipline and fine weather.
Sometimes it’s too much, and I’d get lonely.