I left my heart in Japan

Japan Japan

First of all, I apologise for the poor image quality. Just take a look at those beautiful pixels. Back in 2009, I was using a small Canon point-and-shoot camera. Y'know the ones that could fit into your bum jean pocket? So handy.

These images are two moments that really made my trip in Japan. The first was walking around the Asakusa markets, near where we were staying. It was my first experience of the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. I experienced that strange politeness that comes from the Japanese culture, where you somehow don't bump into anyone in a crowded space. Everyone is aware. There's a strange beauty to it.

The second image was taken after spending an hour or so in the Hiroshima museum. We were all pretty emotional from our walk through the museum, and we met up with each other in a big empty concrete space outside. We all sat around for a bit in silence, taking it all in. Just before we were about to pick up our tired bodies and wander back to the train station, a group of school girls excitedly came over and started to talk to us in their adorable broken English. It really lifted our spirits and made us laugh and smile again. This image really shows our joy.

There are so many of these memories from my time in Japan. Today, I came to realise I'm actually afraid to return to Japan. I'm afraid, since I fell so deeply in love with this beautiful country back then, it won't live up to my expectations this time around.

Wait, 'this time around'. Yeah, I'm finally going back!

If you live outside of Australia then I'll have to introduce you to Jetstar, our equivalent of EasyJet (they even look the same. Coincidence?). As of the past few years, Jetstar has had a thing for Japan. I'm not sure it's the same as what I have for Japan, but there's some sort of bond. Every month or so, Jetstart offers cheap flights to Japan. I'm talking $350 return cheap. To put that price into perspective, that's cheaper than flying from Melbourne to Perth! I'm actually shocked at how cheap our flights are. It was such a good deal, we couldn't pass it up. So we booked for May next year.

Japan was the very first country I travelled to outside of Australia. The first solo trip I had embarked on. The first experience I really saved up and bought for myself. And I went with four of my closest girl friends. We had just finished high school, and were trying to figure things out for ourselves. Half the group were at uni, the other half (me included), we working full-time to see what we were really interested in.

I remember landing in Japan, and feeling really at home. And this was back in the day where you didn't Google everything about a destination before you got there. You used crumpled paper maps, simply walked into a restaurant fingers crossed it would be good, and didn't really have any friends travelled (we were 19 after all). It was a really different time. So we had absolutely no idea what to expect!

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We had made the decision to go to Japan, one drunken house party. It went something like this:

"You guys wanna come to Japan with me?"

"Yeah, sure..."

And so, we planned, we booked, we went. And with our Lonely Planet guidebooks weighing down our luggage, we somehow managed to make our way around Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Hakone, and Hiroshima. Five girls, one memorising country.

And boy did Japan steal our hearts. We all felt really at home, and at peace, we begged not to leave. This was really strange for me, considering I had only ever known Melbourne to be comfortable to me. But somehow, in this mixed up world, I found myself in a completely different country, at ease.

So, I guess it's completely understandable if I'm nervous to go back. Particularly, because this time I'll be with my partner-in-crime, Josh. One part of me is really excited to share this experience with him, since Japan means to much to me. The other part is worried I'll forget the Japan I now know and love, replaced by new memories created in my adult, experienced, 25-year-old self.

But in all seriousness, this picture to the right pretty much sums up how much I loved and enjoyed my time in Japan back in 2009...

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Have you ever returned to a city or country you once fell in love with at a completely different time in your life? What was it like?