It is not at all as I imagined it would be. I thought it would be chaotic and full of people, crowded together, pushing, pollution, noise. But today in the Tokyo airport, as I wait for my connecting flight, it is quiet. It is either 4:30pm or 5:30pm, and I haven’t a clue which one it is, but the sun is setting over Tokyo in a warm orange glow, casting rose colored light on the underside of violet clouds.
As the plane descended onto the runway, I peered out the window, looking over the land that my mind had never before dwelled on. We came over the water and the land lay flat and green. It looked thin, like something that could be easily broken, but its expanse existed in a kind of quiet strength. On the horizon, a yellow haze rested over the silhouette of a city.
I assume this is Tokyo, off in the unimaginable distance. A place I wonder if I will ever really visit.
Behind the city there is an outline of mountains, barely recognizable. Instantly, I am regretful that I cannot say a single thing to the man sitting next to me except to tell him what my name is. I have only walked a few hundred feet into the Tokyo airport and I will probably not see much more of what I’m sure offers the chaos I predicted.
The lounge is full of golden light and yellow colors and walls of windows. One side of windows looks out onto the international exit terminal and the lines that intersect and run diagonally in this diagrammatic pathway suggest order. The other wall of windows overlooks the runway. A large plane is parked just outside and the sun has just set behind it. It is almost quiet, despite how full the lounge is.
It is an unexpected place to find beauty, to sit and watch the sun set at four or five in the afternoon. It is different than I ever expected and now I have a longing to explore the city that lay a few miles down the road. It’s funny how the simple glow of the setting sun in another place can be enough to make it worth a visit, make me long to walk its streets and know its people. And in an airport far away from home, and twenty four hours without sleep behind me, it is a wonder I noticed the sun setting at all. But beauty finds a way to into our lives in little ways every day; it’s only a matter of realizing that it can be found in the most mundane and unexpected places.