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The Art of Never Unpacking

Tokyo: home from home from home
 

To arrive back in Tokyo is to confront the rituals of physically and mentally unpacking.

Today there isn’t a field research kit but in its place the tangible result of too much time spent in swiss and french delicatessens. Hotel laundry beats washing at home, unopened mail on the desk, grocery shopping. The absolute pleasure that comes from properly-properly cleaning the dust from another country from the camera lense.

Bodily time-zone adjustments that either just work, or that take days to figure out. And the the solitude that comes when, like today, the day starts at midnight and ‘lunch’ is preceeded by a 5am ride through the city. It takes a hard hour’s riding to follow the expressway though central Tokyo before curving around the Imperial Palace and heading for home. After 8 hours in 54H the sounds and smells of the city are inviting. The mental clarity that comes from the wee-hours is only tempered by the effect that jetlag has on loved ones later on. Everything has a cost, you just need to figure out what it is.

In many respects home-life stands still for the traveller for the duration of these travels – that list of things that really should be done can take months to be crossed out simply because you’re not here; food stuffs that would normally be eaten in a fortnight last half a year; projects that require a physical presense take an age to get off the ground and everyday relationships are put on hold.

When you travel a lot theres a part of you that never unpacks. Its not good or bad, but it is.