My husband (M) and I had always wanted to travel to Japan.
In June 2012, Jetstar offered 60% discounts on a range of fares from Australia, including to Japan. We had 72 hours to make a commitment and knew not to dither.
We arrived in Japan in April 2013 with hotel bookings in place, a three-week Japan Rail pass, Lonely Planet and Eye Witness guides, notes of discussions we’d had with friends and family who had previously travelled to the country, and enough Yen (we hoped) to last the trip.
Between us we had fewer than 10 words of Japanese, most of which resided with me. The only word which M could consistently recall was “beer”, which took periodic care of our thirst. I quickly memorised “arigato” (thank you), which was always gratefully received even if my pronunciation was often way off.
Our respective parents had travelled to Japan in the 1970’s on organised tours. While there was much temptation to go down this path, we wanted to shape our own voyage of discovery in our own time. We knew that this would make extra work for us, and it did. But once mastered, each challenge brought with it its own particular rewards and much satisfaction that we’d figured things out for ourselves.
While we consider ourselves well-travelled, Japan is like no other place on earth that we’ve visited. It is at once both familiar and yet unfamiliar. I tell friends and family that it is like travelling overseas for the first time. There are so many revelations. At times, they can take your breath away.
Although I kept a travel diary, this blog does not set out to chronicle our daily movements. Rather, it is about the things that impressed us, some of which you may not necessarily find in travel guides.
By contrast, I do not deliberately set out to exclude some of the many things for which Japan is famous. If it’s not represented in this blog, that is because we didn’t have time to see it, or taste it (I’m too scared to try fugu) or weren’t travelling in the right season to experience it.
I hope our enthusiasm for Japan will infuse this blog and that you will enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed being there.