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Back to Japan

Back to Japan

We’re flying to Tokyo in less than two days. I’m in a blissful state of anticipation – though I dread the packing, as usual. It hasn’t been too long since our last visit, but of all the countries I have lived in, Japan is still the one that evokes the most vivid and nostalgia-inducing memories. Perhaps that’s just part of the culture? The most beautifully nostalgic films and music I know have originated from either Japan or somewhere in Europe, and I’ll be the first to admit that I relate better to Japan, not least because I spent a year calling it “home”.

When I think about returning to Australia after an overseas stint, it makes me feel calm and grounded. Returning to Hong Kong makes me feel almost manically purposeful – imagine a tiger stalking its prey through the forest at night, but substitute in an Asian girl holding all too many shopping bags while hunting down street food to fill the gaps between main meals at unbeatable restaurants. Returning to Chile makes my heart leap with longing for the Andes, the Atacama, the heartbreakingly wild song of the Patagonia. Returning to Japan? It just makes me happy. Despite the cacophony of memories I have of that place – with a few painful ones swirling among a far greater cloud of amazing ones, arguably adding the depth and emotion that makes them “amazing” rather than merely “great” – my reaction to the thought of visiting Japan is always one of simple joy.

We’re there for four weeks, a much longer period than our tantalisingly short eight-day visit last time. We start and end in Tokyo, staying there for just over a week in total, which gives us time to revisit old haunts – eat at each well-loved ramenya, izakaya, cafe and restaurant at least once, do a bit of shopping, meander through familiar back streets, and sing a few rounds of karaoke. The rest of the trip is spent away from the main cities, and in some areas we have never visited before. We’re climbing Fuji, lazing in the hot springs in Hakone (which I’ve never previously tried in summer), visiting old friends, and doing two weeks of hiking through the Japanese Alps.

Mt Fuji from Hakone

We also have a few Michelin star restaurants booked in, and we’re both very excited about them. There’s a kaiseki meal at Kohaku which I’m particularly looking forward to, because I’d read this blog post a year or so ago and it lodged in my memory – in part because of the food, and in part because of the ambience. I’ve had some incredible kaiseki meals in Japan before, particularly in higher-end ryokan, but most of those experiences have been outside of Tokyo because I only splurged on special occasions (which typically involved travel). I’m looking forward to trying what the capital has to offer.

In short, it’s an itinerary that has a bit of everything I love (except a concert or two by my favourite bands, which the greedy part of me is wanting to squeeze in even though the lack of current tours by said bands makes it rather impossible), so we’ll try to post a range of different entries when we have access to internet and technology. Feel free to follow our Facebook page, where we’ll share snippets and photos as we go!

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