“A trip of a lifetime…”

My Dad caught me off guard the other day when we were talking about my recent 17 day stay in Japan – he called it a “trip of a lifetime.”  It was startling because in so many ways, travel is one of those things to me that is no different than picking up milk from the store – it’s on the shelf waiting to be purchased and experienced… one just has to do it.

But Dad has a point – even if I go back to Japan (and I’m planning to in the new year), it won’t be the same as the first time.  It never is the same.  And, given the circumstances around my travel, it truly is an experience that will be hard to replicate in 10 or 15 years.

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Chris – fearless adventurer!

At the start of November, Chris did something that I think a lot of us dream about doing.  With the calendar not willing to pause, time was running out on his ability to make a dream come true – living in Tokyo.  Ever since the first time we met for coffee, it was on his bucket list.

“I want to have an apartment in Tokyo,” he told me.

Well, making that dream a reality was something he had been researching for the past 18 months.  At the end of September, he left the company he had been working for over the last three years to embark on an adventure of his own to set up shop for the next year in Tokyo on a working holiday visa.  The proverbial clock was ticking – you need to be under the age of 30 in order to obtain the visa, and he was on the wrong side of 25 when it came to putting things off.

So, on November 1, he ditched many of his possessions (with the keep pile ending in partially at my place and partially at his mom’s), packed his bags, and hopped on an Air Canada flight bound for Tokyo’s Narita International Airport.  (I make it sound so simple, but there was a good 12 months of planning that led up to it that you can read all about on his blog – and I highly encourage it!)

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Chariot!

Six days later, I also hopped on an Air Canada plane bound for Narita.  However, my adventure would not be as long as his will be – 17 days versus 365.  And what an adventure it was.

I’d experience a whole host of new things – from gorging on sashimi at a neighbourhood sushi bar (the mom of one of Chris’ Japanese friends invited us out), to naked bathing at a traditional hot spring, to being in two magnitude 5+ earthquakes.  Japan would push my comfort zone to its limits, and open me up to a new way of looking at the world.

And the “never to be repeated” quality to it all?  Well, the time is ticking on Chris’ stay in Japan.  And while the planes will still fly there 10 to 15 years from now, being able to stay the way I did – where I did, it won’t be replicated.

“A trip of a lifetime,” indeed.

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Since I’ve been home, some people have rolled their eyes or scoffed when I bring up Japan.  I’m unapologetic about relating my time there – it is an experience that has left an indelible stamp on me.  It’s something I can’t shake.  Like the humidity in your clothes, it kind of lingers for a while.  Blogging about it will help me collect my thoughts about the whole experience.

In the coming days, I’ll be sharing my notes from Japan – it’ll range in tone from traditional “trip reports” you’d find on any other travel blog, to some practical information for people thinking about embarking on a similar adventure.

I can’t wait to share it all with you.

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