Let me just start by saying that Tokyo is one of the world’s most populated cities.
Our first experience of Tokyo was to go to Shibuya Crossing – one of the world’s busiest intersections. In a way, the hustle and bustle and sheer press of humanity was one of the many forces that pulled me towards this destination. Just seeing the masses of people was enough to inspire an anxiety attack.
I couldn’t imagine ever running into someone I knew on accident here. It was up there with New York City where, like a tried and true joke, you could break up with someone easily and not have to worry about ever seeing them again.
During our stay in Japan, much like the rest of our travels, we met some cool folks. Fellow travelers with whom your paths intersect briefly. You share some stories and laughs, maybe some drinks and dinner. Other than a very rare few of those encounters (see here, and here. Some folks are just meant to be in your lives!) the expectations are simple: we’ve had a good time meeting you and we will never see you again.
It’s not bittersweet or even monumental – just a blip on your radar that reminds you of how vast and expansive this world is at the exact same moment it reminds you of how connected you can feel within that distance.
We had one of those encounters while in Miyajima watching the sunset over the Floating Torii. A seemingly random assortment of three people were traveling together for a short time. One guy from France, one guy who’ve I’ve forgotten entirely and a striking red headed gal from Switzerland.
We shared some laughs, exchanged some brief travel stories (they all were traveling independently) and took some photos for each other. We exchanged names, knowing all to well that they would become lost over time, and wished each other happy travels.
Fast forward a few days and Adam and I are back in Tokyo figuring out our last meal before we had to hit the monorail to make our departure flight from Haneda. We had heard that the Isetan was a world in and of itself – a sprawling mall with a delicious food hall in the basement that served dishes ranging from the typical to the gourmet. Sort of an Epicurean meets Harrods.
We thought this would be as good a place as any and I started my search for my last bite of Japanese Sushi. The masses of people present was somewhat overwhelming. I had to close my eyes a couple of times just to allow myself some calming breaths before re-opening and confronting the next set of food vendors.
I’m contemplating my final choices when I hear my and Adam’s names being called out. It doesn’t even register at first – of course I’m hallucinating, I’m surrounded by thousands of people and I’m hungry!
I turned around to confront this hallucination and wouldn’t you know it. Our red-headed friend from Switzerland had found us. Two needles in a haystack (albeit fairly recognizable Gaijin needles) discovered.
What can I say? We stood out.
We chatted briefly, she gave us some last minute advice on what to see during our next adventure to Hawaii. We wished each other well.
And I have to admit it was a slightly more bittersweet parting having found each other again.