Exploring a new place is exciting in itself, but when that new place is a sprawling Asian metropolis, 40 million people strong; it's a whole new ball game. Katanas, kimonos, sumo wrestlers, sushi, electric vehicles, hydroponic farms and Ichiro are all things that describe the wonder that is Tokyo. However, it was the ice cream that I'll remember the most.
I walked down the cement mall while shops on both sides politely (as the Japanese are) battled for my attention. While no one truly approached me, the tent like stores advertised with a multitude of cheap shiny objects and souvenirs that seemed to beckon your wallet more than your common sense. Basically, it was an ADHD kids nightmare... Meaning I was in trouble. Fortunately, I kept my wits about me long enough to avoid the mile long junkyard of cheap trinkets that despite being located in Japan, were more than likely still "Made in China." Before I let disappointment be my overall impression of the tourist trap I found myself in, I decided I'd try a simple ice cream cone. Not expecting much, I approached the fluorescent yellow and neon blue booth and pointed to the chocolate cone. The young woman behind the counter shyly handed over the cone. With a smile and the best English she could muster, she asked for 350 yen ($3.50). Feeling wealthy, I handed her a note that read 1000 yen and she counted back my change. As she handed me each and every coin, she took the time to point out the value of every coin and show me the pictures on both sides, smiling as she pressed each coin into my hand.
Whether it's disappointment, depression, degradation or distress there are people around us all the time on the brink of experiencing these feelings. By giving of our most precious asset, our time, beyond what people expect of us- we have a chance to change that.
I walked away from that store smiling like Justin Bieber in his mugshot. Cheap souvenirs beckoned yet again, yearning to pull my spirits down to where they were pre-coin counting. But hey, what kind of person can be disappointed with an ice cream cone in their hand? ;)