My heart is not here


Jet lag is a funny thing. I got back to Tokyo last night after an almost 24-hour journey back from the UK. After a pot of tea and some toast I thought I’d be ready for bed, but nope, at 4am I was still wide awake. I finally managed a couple of hours sleep and then my eyes popped open again and by  7:30 I was out in the windy sunshine, off for a walk round the lake at my local park.

This year I have been walking every day, and as well as making me fitter it has also opened my eyes to the beauty and wonders around me. Tokyo is a great city to walk in, but in the summer, walking around the village I grew up in I realised what a country girl I am. I recognised the crops, I was thankful for the good harvest, I fretted whether the harvest would be in before the rain came. Walking in my own childhood footsteps I had a new appreciation for the village and the surrounding countryside.

Just as I did in the summer I spent the last fortnight taking the same walks. My favourite takes me all the way up the village, past the primary school I attended, along the top road and then a long walk down a farm track, through a hamlet and back out onto the main (actually only) road. I walked through the wood where bluebells bloom in the spring, past the field of Jacob sheep (and the alpaca that lives with them), past the church where I was confirmed. On Sunday I walked 4 miles to the parish church, something that feels like a mini pilgrimage every time I do it.

And then, on Wednesday, I left again and flew back to Tokyo, and I have the same feeling I did when I came back at the end of August: my heart is not here. My body is here (even though it refuses to sleep), my mind knows I’m here, but my heart hasn’t caught up yet. My feet are walking on the pavements in Tokyo, but they are missing the farm tracks, the mud and the soft fallen leaves I was walking on a few days ago. I see herons at the park and miss pheasants, I smell car exhausts and miss woodsmoke, I see smart pedigree dogs dressed up in little outfits out for a walk and I miss the farm dogs who come out to bark and see me off as I walk past their home.

My heart aches for the landscape that shaped me, for the memories, for my roots. I feel like I’ve been wrenched away from the soil that I belong in. Having spent most of my adult life in large Asian cities I thought I was a confirmed city dweller and it has come as a surprise to understand that I am very much a country girl; a north of England, tiny village, muddy-booted, crop-watching, blackberry-picking country girl.



9 thoughts on “My heart is not here

  1. arumanda

    We are different things at different times. But yet, we are also all of those things all at the same time. Perhaps it just depends on what (and where) our soul and heart most needs in each moment. I have noticed a change in the emotion of your posts and photos when you are back in England. Just of late. And now with your reflections here they help me make sense of that. All I have to say is that your noticing is wisdom and your heart always knows what you need. Sending you love and hugs and always appreciating your honesty as you love and share your journey. Xxx

  2. Michelle

    Beautifully written piece, always. My heart aches when Tokyo Purple Gorl returns to Japan too! Follow your heart. X

  3. gharrhome

    Indeed. There are people the same as you, and they prefer to live in the country areas of Japan as it’s less populated compared to the city areas. It’s possible that you have opened up the chance to find some new and very interesting friends.

  4. Lisa M. Rhodes

    Your post reminded me of years gone by, when I, too, returned to Japan after being back in Canada to visit my small hometown: that disjointed feeling of being in two places simultaneously — physically in Japan and yet mentally/emotionally elsewhere. I was vexed when I ‘re-entered’, and the same sort of duality occurred, when I found myself longing for some ‘Japanese-ness’ to my life back in Canada. I shook it off (inaccurately?) as the often
    described ‘love-hate’ relationship with Japan. I think I often asked ‘why’ it was happening.
    Your introspective post seems more an answer to both ‘who’ and ‘where’ questions. There is likely comfort and security to be found in knowing yourself so well. Sending much love to you. Happy New Year.

  5. Tiffani S. Anderson

    Love this! I’m also not a big city person, and can relate to your post.

    Happy new year!


  6. E

    Hi Tokyopurplegirl. Are you still here–in Tokyo–or have you just stopped updating your blog? I just stumbled across your last post as I lay awake at 4:00am, having just returned from a long-haul 24-hr plus flight from the U.K. Such a coincidence, as I was actually searching for ideas for a day walk nearby. Hope you haven’t left, and you’ll update this blog someday! Leaving Tokyo for a while whenever I can helps me appreciate it more.

    1. tokyopurplegirl Post author

      Hi, I’m still here on the blog, but in the U.K. at the moment. Spring was a rather hectic time and I haven’t blogged in ages. Time to get back to it from September! Thank you for reading and commenting!


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