So … Japan

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We touched back down in Oz last night (although we had to have an extra night in Melbourne before we finally reach Hobart) and so I’m already reflecting on our Japanese trip.

I was told by so many people how much I’d love Japan before we went there, but the truth is: I didn’t.
Maybe if we’d got away to some of the remote southern islands, the Japanese alps or the wilder north I may have seen a side of Japan I loved, but in the crowded corridor we visited from Tokyo to Hiroshima, I didn’t fall in love.

In many ways this isn’t surprising.  Often on my trips overseas I enjoy the cities and the iconic sites, I thrill at visiting those almost magical dots on a map that I’ve seen and read about my whole life, but my passion for travelling resides in the countryside, in exploring the small villages and remote cycle ways that link a country like veins in the body.
Japan, at least the Japan we saw, had little of that.  It was an unending metropolis where the postcard perfect images I had in my head were only to be seen in the magazines in our hotels and amongst the masses of ordinary-ness (and crowded people) around it.

The Real Mt Fuji

Like other parts of Asia, I found that the language barrier (both written and oral) meant that I was extremely restricted in interpreting what was happening around me.  It was a frustrating experience – a bit like only being able to experience the world through a thick pane of glass, and not being able to really step out into it and experience it yourself.

But don’t get me wrong – I did really enjoy our trip to Japan.  I learnt, and saw, a lot and that’s ultimately why I travel.

I now have a different image of the country, probably a more real one.  I feel like I understand another little piece of our world just that little better, and without other’s filters being put over it.

And that’s always worth it.

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