Lost in Tokyo

18 Jan

We had just finished eating our last and most grand dinner together as a crew in Tokyo. Heading our way back home to the TEAM Center, this was going to be our last time on the train. That means this would be the last time our producer Ellie will have to yell out, “Make sure we don’t lose Angela!”

First, let me tell you: I have never gotten lost, not even close to being lost. And you know…producers worry a lot, and I understand. 🙂

Second, we were in Shibuya, one of the most amazingly jam-packed places in Tokyo. When it’s late at night, this place is alive. The only thing is Shibuya isn’t that cool when you’re in the train station an hour before all the stations close.

So when everyone had their tickets out, and had passed through the ticket scanner, I was still on the other side, looking through my little fanny pack for my ticket I just bought. I couldn’t find it. But when I finally found it and scanned it through the ticket scanner, the crew was nowhere to be found! Where did they go?

That’s when I realized how overwhelming Tokyo really is. With everyone walking at different paces, I felt like I was standing before a sea of people, with waves wildly unpredictable and undying. Or like Simba from Lion King, overwhelmed in the midst of a stampede that won’t die out.

I ran up the stairs and found the platform that looked most familiar to me with the striking Hey! Say! Jump! (Japan pop band) poster. I searched for my crew and then I knew. I was officially lost.

So I jumped on this train because we always did. But as soon as the doors closed, a second thought hit me: I could be on the train that goes the opposite direction. So at the next stop, I hopped onto the train that goes back to wild Shibuya. I walked up to the service center in the train station and asked for directions to Mitaka. The lady pulled out three maps until I understood what she’d been saying. Sorry, English o kudasai!

So actually I was going in the right direction on the right train. All I needed to do was to get on the right train, switch onto the Chuo Line at Shinjuku (ask Ellie for help if you are having a hard time pronouncing), and exit Mitaka. Then home. But it was already past 12am and the stations were about to close. At this point, I knew I was doomed. Just kidding. At this point, I suddenly realized how much my team must be worried about me, intensifying my own worry and desire to find my way back. I just wanted to see a familiar face and know I was safe.

Thank God I was able to make it to Mitaka. As I reached and walked out of the Mitaka station, I saw Dean! A familiar face! There was nothing like it to know that I was found. I felt so bad for worrying the crew. Imagine Ellie and Rachel stressed out. And then Dean. Everyone had gone back to the TEAM Center, while Ellie and Dean waited for me for 45 minutes. But by the time I reached Mitaka, only Dean was there to meet me with a really shaky voice. Bet you haven’t heard that voice yet!

The next part really defined what this trip meant to me. The entire last semester, I was struggling over my place and significance on the team, which really played with my confidence concerning my relationships with the team and my contribution to this film. But on our last day in Tokyo, it seemed like I had to get lost in Tokyo in order for me to recognize that I did have a defined place in this team. But it wasn’t just about that. It was more than that.

When I got back to the TEAM Center, each person gave me a really long and hearty-tight hug and asked me what had happened. By the time the last person hugged me, I teared up because I realized what I meant to this whole crew. Like how Zach likes to call our time together family time, I finally daburu (double) understood it. I know that if the same thing happened to anyone else in the crew, we’d all react the same way, and that’s because we’ve come to rely so deeply on each other as a team, or I should say, family.

I guess this is what working on a 15-19 hour-day film set does to you. Nah! I realized how powerful it is to open up and to be vulnerable, to look stupid or even sound ridiculous. I mean talking about osowake, sharing became the glue to our cohesiveness—Joey mentioned it. It’s pretty cool that we had all originally signed up to work on a film, yet, not knowing that from making this film we would be at a place where we learned to share life.

So after all, maybe you should come see the film when it’s completed and let it change your life 😉 No, really.

A. Kwan

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One Response to “Lost in Tokyo”

  1. Meryl van der Merwe January 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    Having been on a Japanese train station at rush hour in the late afternoon, I could picture it all as you described it. I also know the feeling of getting on a train and not being sure it is the right one. BUT – I wasn’t alone!! Wow – what an adventure.

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