A Year in an Instant


Day 15

Instant photo for Day 15 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos


I’ve moved into yet another new temporary accommodation. This time I don’t have the standard suitcase photo as the attic I’m staying in is too small. But my Airbnb host, Jung, is very cheerful and helpful. She took me out for dinner tonight in Ikebukuro. Stress and hunger came into play, I ordered dinner twice: Omurice and Pork Steak. As the name suggests, omurice is a an omelette with rice. I remember this dish as an important plot device of the anime series Charlotte that aired this summer.

At home we watched TV. One of the TV shows that Jung enjoys watching is a Japanese reality show where men go out with their girlfriends for coffee or dinner and stare at other attractive women, driving their girlfriends mad. The goal of the show is for them to be forgiven by their partners.


I played an American pop song on my phone in repeat. It was so foreign to me now, but relaxing at the same time.

Day 14

Instant photo for Day 14 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

We are all lost. We are looking for the missing pieces of ourselves, but the more we travel the more we break ourselves. I don’t know what I am doing here. Staying up past midnight, writing every morning, in silence. No place has everything we need. I’m more broken than I’ve ever been. But I love mending these broken pieces of who I was into who I am to be.

The photo above was taken on the 9th floor of the Shibuya Hikarie (渋谷ヒカリエ) building, the floor above my office, this morning.

This photo has already been claimed

Day 13

Instant photo for Day 13 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

There is something special around Shibuya tonight. I can feel the lights being printed in my memory, just like the first time I’ve seen them two years ago.


Before dinner we walked around Shinjuku, did a little of window shopping, got coffee in Omotesandō and came back to Shibuya where I ate the phenomenal tsukemen from the Menya Musashi Bukotsu Gaiden (麺屋武蔵 武骨外伝). For dessert we got a drink at the Living Room Café, a sophisticated venue for a quiet drink. Alex and Haru: thank you both for tonight.

In the photo above you can see one of the chefs at the Menya Musashi Bukotsu Gaiden (麺屋武蔵 武骨外伝) in Shibuya. All sizes up to 1kg of noodles are the same price.

Day 12

Instant photo for Day 12 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

Today was the day to meet my old friend from university, Shun Sugimoto. Shun was probably the first Japanese person I’ve ever met. At the same time he’s the least Japanese person I know.

I met up with him at Sakura Tei (さくら亭), an okonomiyaki restaurant in the area of Omotesandō. The first time I have had okonomiyaki was in Hiroshima. And the second was in the restaurant Abeno in Holborn, London. Okonomiyaki is a pancake made of mixed cabbage and noodles with other assorted ingredients. Most okonomiyaki restaurants are made for you to grill your own okonomiyaki and that makes it a great group event. When ordering you choose your favourite ingredients to add to the pancake and once cooked you top it up with Japanese mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce and fish flakes. Japanese mayonnaise is made of egg yolks and vinegar instead of whole eggs, salt and sugar giving it a yellow tone and stronger flavour.

Shun was accompanied by Danny and Georgia, both visiting from London. Danny is a manager of a bar in central London. Despite being in a bar during most of his working hours, he was keen to visit all the best bars in Tokyo. This meant trouble for me. Danny is an Italian who lives in London but he was not shy to speak with the staff in fluent Japanese or to me in fluent Portuguese. He moved us from one bar to the next, buying the next round of drinks, making it impossible for me to escape. I told him about my ideas of earning a living making cocktails for some period of time and he give me advice on how to make that happen. We followed him to the bar A971, Propaganda, Ooh yeah formerly known as Jumanji, The Pink Cow, V2, Shamrock and finally Feria. All located in Roppongi. This was the high energy, positive feeling, night out that I needed. And now I feel like I know my way around the bar and club scene of Roppongi.

Above is a photo of Shun, the legendary contortionist.

Day 11

Instant photo for Day 11 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

I’m glad Win is visiting Tokyo this week. I haven’t stopped to think how I feel in Tokyo. Having a good old friend from my previous chapter helps me understand where I am at. This excess of freedom left me somewhat lost.

I met Win at the Hachikō square. Hachikō is a statue in the square outside Shibuya station, made in honour of the dog who waited for his owner every morning in that precise location. Hachikō continued going to the station for over nine years after the owner’s death. Locals started bringing Hachikō food and treats during its wait, and today the statue honours its loyalty to the owner.

Alex joined us at the square. So did Ayaka. And we all went to the izakaya Doma Doma (土間土間 渋谷).

The photo above is a portrait of Win at the Hachikō square.

Day 10

Instant photo for Day 10 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

Today I visited two more apartments with Fontana. Myself and Samson are now friends after the incident of my last visit. I met him at the Fontana office, took the photo above, and visited an apartment in Sasazuka and another one in Sangenjaya.

The first apartment in Sasazuka is the largest I’ve seen so far, with a kitchen, living room and bathroom in the lower floor and bedroom on the upstairs loft. Clothes, shoes, paintings and textiles fill every corner and wall space of this apartment. The current owner must be a fashion or textiles student. The rent for this apartment is ¥90,000 excluding bills.

The second apartment is in Sangenjaya. This is a smaller apartment with a small bathroom, kitchenette and main room with a single bed, wardrobe and desk. It has very large sliding doors at the end of the room that give access to the balcony. Despite being smaller, the interior of this apartment seems more carefully thought out. The size also seems more appropriate for a single person with very few belongings like myself. The monthly rent for this apartment is ¥80,000 excluding bills.

As usual I asked my friends for opinions. All of them unanimously recommended me the area of Sangenjaya. They say it has a lot of nice cafés and restaurants. Sasazuka only has a better supermarket. I decided to put my social house plans away and made a deposit for my future apartment in Sangenjaya.

Day 9

Instant photo for Day 9 of “A Year in an Instant” by Nuno Coelho Santos

Today I moved to Homeikan. I will be staying here until the end of the week while I finish apartment hunting.

Homeikan is my number one place of choice when staying in Tokyo. Originally recommended by my friend Win, this is a traditional Japanese Ryokan. A Ryokan is a traditional guest house or Japanese Inn that you can book online through their website homeikan.com, HostelWorld.com or the Japanese Guest Houses website japaneseguesthouses.com. This last website is particularly handy to find guest houses around Japan and I’ve used it several times. A stay at Homeikan will cost around ¥7,000 per night.

All rooms in this guest house are with tatami floors. The tatami has a smell similar to fresh grass, especially when it is new, and is quite comfortable to sleep on.

Like in most traditional Japanese Inns, guests are provided with a fresh yukata every day. The yukata is a casual full-length robe, similar to a kimono, to be worn indoors and around the neighbourhood if desired. And the Homeikan also has three indoors onsen: a private one,a shared one for women and a shared one for men. An onsen is a Japanese-style hot bath. I am sure I will be using it every night before going to sleep.

The photo above is another one of the series of my suitcase and backpack upon arrival in a temporary accommodation.