Monday, April 23, 2012




Oh, I see - you're saying this is all you saw of Kyushu (the southernmost of Japan's four main islands), right? Before you went to Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo and all that stuff. I get it.

No? But you can't possibly mean...

Oh. Wow.

You haven't seen the last of me, Japan!

I feel like I only just scratched the surface of this potentially insane place.
(This was a regular, mainstream book shop, by the way. There's no back room or anything)

I'll come back to Japan some time to see it properly ('properly' meaning more than just one fairly unremarkable city), but I wasn't feeling it this time. I've wanted to go to Japan for a long time - it was the first country I thought of when I planned my escape from the UK - but this trip was forced upon me by the ending of my Korean visa. I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to spend all the extra money Japan requires when I wasn't really enjoying what I was getting.

There's always part of me that evaluates countries as future settling-down posts, and I won't write off Japan as a potential long-term living destination yet. True, I wasn't that impressed by the welcome I got, and it'll be hard to justify paying several times more than in most other countries I've visited unless I really bloody like this place, but it'll get a clean slate for next time. Four days isn't too difficult to erase, admittedly.

And when a girl you're talking to suddenly has to break off the conversation to go home and feed her robot cat (true story), a sense of insurmountable cultural incompatibility dawns.

You don't need to excuse yourself, you know

I know that. But as you have to be in my position to understand how the ups and downs of long term travelling affect the way I feel, abandoning the prospect of exploring Japan once I've already arrived might seem a little crazy to you, even ungrateful.

But I still would have had to take expensive trains to get around and deal with slightly uncomfortable accommodation (the extremely cramped bunks and general overcrowding I can just about tolerate, but the lack of security lockers was a bit worrying). It turns out Japan doesn't suit my working-on-the-road lifestyle all that much after all.

Writing blogs in this position for a couple of hours at a time really isn't good for your back. I'm already slouching quite considerably to fit in this triple-decker bunk compartment, surrounded by other people's laundry. Look at those sad eyes!

After a stressful arrival, a revealing dream and nagging doubts that had been brewing for several weeks (they first emerged when I was forced to postpone the Japan trip in February for financial reasons and felt odd relief) I decided to treat the ferry crossing as a slightly extended visa run, like the first time I went to Cambodia (except I stayed longer than 20 minutes this time).

It was a relief when it suddenly dawned on me that I didn't have to arrange all these bus and train connections to a remote hostel that had no bathroom (what do you expect for £18, Your Highness?) and other boat + ferry combos and could instead just rewind my actions so far, before things became harder to re-spool.

It was fun to act on impulse, it's been a while. That's the sort of 'impulse' that involves spending a few hours meticulously re-planning a week's activities, cancelling old reservations, making new ones and ultimately not losing too much money. Stick with me and there'll doubtless be many more unexcitingly sensible switcheroos in the future!

If I tripled my budget, travelling comfortably in Japan would have been no problem. But when there's a choice between working for 90 minutes a day and travelling cheap or working a few extra hours and enjoying the finer things in life, I'll take the lazy option every time.

Looks like that Pokemon craze has even reached Japan now.
I guess they're a little behind the times

Look, they've got these too. Japan is becoming so Westernised -
what's next, an anime re-make of Stephen Norrington's Akira set in Japan? オフファック

Japan route map

A Fukuoka
B Dazaifu

I'll write about Japan in depth next time I go there, alright? Thirteen countries in 18 months not good enough for you? Some people.

1 comment:

  1. Bloody hell, I considered a few porn comics risque? There'll be much more depraved stuff next time I write about Japan. Prepare yourself. Or avoid at all costs.