Japan has always felt a bit unreal to me, from the first moment I came here. The shift in time zones doesn’t help anything, but it’s Japan itself that seems ever so slightly out of phase with the rest of the world. I’m sure there’s a practical reason — some combination of humidity, smog, latitude — but subjectively I always take a few days to adjust, and even then I still have occasional lapses when I feel like I’m stuck in a particularly detailed stage set. I don’t have this feeling when I fly back home. If anything, there’s something about the light in California that lends a hard-edged sense of reality to everything, as if the sun clearly delineated every object from the background. It’s also not the fact that it’s another country, because I haven’t had this feeling when I’ve traveled to other countries.
Even a bright day in Japan seems to conceal darkness behind the glare.