Rek Bell

2013— 365 days later

October 18th was our landing date in Japan, it was also marked in our passports as the day we would have to leave. That date has now passed and here we are still.

Just a year ago we left Quebec, along with everything we know. Everything we know and that we would undoubtedly miss. Our lives had been reduced down to the clothes on our backs, two suitcases and two recently purchased bicycles. We left despite all the doubts and fears i had, every time i found myself panicking about the choice we had made Devine would give me that assuring smile of his and tell me everything would work out. I tend to see things in a very negative light, so naturally i expected the worse to happen, expected failure around every corner. To my surprise, everything did work out.

Even if it hadn't, I can't imagine what my life would have been like if i hadn't at least tried. This was a turning point for me, jumping head on into a world of uncertainty. It isn't easy, saying its easy is ridiculous… taking the first leap into anything unknown is always disconcerting.

We arrived in Tokyo late at night, in the rain. The search for our place began when we stepped off Toritsu Kasei station at 9pm, tired we soon grew weary of this wet maze. Our paper map resembled a wet kleenex, with every passing minute the streets were getting harder and harder to make out as the lines and text mingled together into a messy ink blob of information. All ended well, our map did not fail us despite the fact it had absorbed more water than paper should. We were rewarded with a cosy tatami-floored room with japanese style beds. This adventure was the first of many, we spent that first week biking everywhere. Biking had become a really big part of my life then already.

I accumulated over 6000km of riding this year, it was my first time being able to ride through all the seasons. If i can give one piece of advice, one that i feel could greatly improve the life of others it would be this: GET A BIKE. Some of the best times I've had in Tokyo were spent on two wheels. It has only brought me good things, ever since i started my health has improved greatly… i remember a time where i walked in and out of clinics constantly. Now i can proudly say i am never sick, I've dropped a lot of weight and i feel really good. I know now how important it is to push yourself, in anything.

A week after i arrived in Tokyo, out of the blue i was offered work. I did not expect to be working right away, my plan was to travel around and experience the country first but then i thought… what is working in Japan if not an experience in itself? I embarked on a different kind of adventure, and I began working at TonePlus animation studio. The address led me to a small Shinjuku studio, hidden away in a residential area… this maze i conquered with surprising ease. I was greeted by an eccentric foreigner who turned out to be my boss Bernie. I was lucky, my first project was Puppeteer. What a way to start working in Japan! I have learned countless things there, Bernie pushed me into avenues i was not comfortable in at all. Pushing people in directions that are the complete opposite of what they know is the best way to learn. It is very stressful and i remember being frustrated countless times, which i cured by sketching these said frustrations, but looking back i am really glad. I've had a lot of fun times here, touring around Tokyo in a double decker bus equipped with a bar, a mongolian wrestling restaurant that serves mare's milk, as well as visits to hidden punk bars in Kabukicho.

Before i started work, we went to what was to be the very last BlipFest. Devine had been invited to play, that was also one of the reasons why we decided to go in october. The show was a great way to kickstart our trip, its also where we met Lisa. I felt it was important to mention her, seeing as how she was our first really good friend here in Tokyo. A lot of the great moments we've had here were spent in her company. Including climbing Mount Fuji.

We scaled that famed monster in June. As expected every japanese person there was properly geared to scale this thing, evidently the 4 people in our group had shoes and other gear that were not meant for this sort of activity. Aside from destroying our footwear in all it took us 7 hours, to climb 3720m up to the 10th station. Climbing it in the dark, and rain, to reach the summit for the sunrise is what we had planned for and it's what most people do. Looking behind you while climbing offered a most beautiful sight, everyone had a light and from far away people looked like fireflies hovering in the night all moving towards the same goal. The can of Asahi and yakisoba we had when we arrived back down was very well deserved. We were also lucky that year to fly out to Australia for a chip tune festival, we returned red-skinned and pleased that we had consumed all the cider and multigrain bread we could.

A lot of the outings we do seem to involve the sudden coming of rain. The trip to Labyrinth, a music festival, was no exception. Excited we were to try out our new tent and sleeping bags, it was our first time camping and it did not occur to us at the time to drive the spikes of the tent as deep into the ground as possible. It would have been a good thing, seeing as how on the 3rd day of the festival a Typhoon came. We spent the night laying star-shaped in the tent trying to help it keep it standing. Unfortunately the storm did not let up, our clothing along with everything else we had brought became heavy with rainwater. Its then that we decided to leave, and to abandon our 3 day old friend the tent.

While we did do a lot of really great trips. Most our of time was spent doing every day activities, even those I enjoyed greatly. Like sharing a vat of red wine at Saizerya with Devine after work with a portion of Tarako pasta and a seafood gratin. Even just cycling over Harumi bridge at night coming home from work, seeing the rainbow coloured illuminated crane of Toyosu always makes me smile. Also my morning ritualistic bike ride does not tire me yet, I enjoy working my way through the traffic of tsukiji riding through people on carts, trucks, bikes and scooters packed with fresh veggies and fish. Being here a year, we have found places we like to return to such as the former battlements of Daiba park overlooking Rainbow Bridge. You can find us there, drinking umeshuu on the southern side of the island while watching the moon jellyfish inhabiting Tokyo bay. A lot of our time is spent cooking, our kitchen resembling a chemistry lab as we combine ingredients and quantities while searching for different ways to bake bread without an oven. Whenever we use avocados in our recipes, Devine forbids me to throw away the pits and proceeds to cleaning them out to try and give them life again. The same goes with Kabocha, which are invading our studio currently, as well as oranges, basil and potatoes. Aside from turning into a dense indoor jungle, our studio is also where we continue to create things. It is where Devine worked from home for most of the past year, working on his very first published titles. These are truly things i love.

I have learned a lot of things this year, things that have re-shaped my way of thinking. Many have asked us when we were planning on returning, for the time being i can't really give a proper answer to that. I try not to think ahead too much, its hard anyway… i like my present too much to dwell on what could be. For now i will just keep pushing myself, while enjoying my day to day life with my teacher, best friend and favourite person Devine.

Here is to another year of uncertainty!

Go back to yearly review.