01 May 2011

My almost Japan trip

Hearing: Dr. Dre, Skylar Grey & Eminem - I Need a Doctor

It is quite obvious to anyone who has been reading this blog for a while that i haven't really don't much by way of travelling. In fact "Globetrotter Postcards" should be renamed to "Stay at home Postcards". Since my trip to Thailand in 2009 i actually haven't been on any overseas trip. I hang my head in shame. For someone who for two years barely spent a week on the ground at one time this has been a drastic turn of events and a huge adjustment. However, i must say that my confinement has been of my own infliction. I made myself promise that i would not go anywhere after Thailand unless it was to Japan.

Shibuya Crossing (http://www.flickr.com/photos/poagao/2305789735/)

All my close friends know that Japan has been a dream of mine since i was in year 3 and my teacher introduced this strange and vastly different culture and language into the classroom. Since then i took Japanese in high school and a semester at Uni. Even flying with my old airline was meant to get me that bit closer. The airline was meant to fly there 6 months after i joined. It ended up flying there 6 months after i left instead.

Shinjuku (http://tumblr.inky.me/post/112921528)

So i saved and saved and saved! I planned to be there a month during cherry blossom season and then one day i would post live from the heart of Tokyo. Surprise! But nature had other plans it seems.

Cherry Blossoms in bloom (http://www.accessjapan.co.uk/newlookimages/CherryblossomsKanonjiRiverFukushima800.jpg)

Unless you have been living under a rock, you would have heard of the disaster that Japan went through  almost 6 weeks ago and is still recovering from. I had my ticket booked - a bargain on sale with Jetstar - my first nights accommodation and had planned to sit down on the 16th to book the remainder of my accommodation (more on that a bit later). But disaster struck the day before and a huge earthquake hit off the coast of north-eastern Japan and was of such magnitude that it was felt all the way down to Tokyo. The city of Sendai was wiped out - literally - by the massive and crushing tsunami that hit in the wake of the earthquake. To top things off the 3 nuclear reactors were under threat. In the days that followed there were explosions, areas evacuated for fear of radiation and a rush to try and avoid a total nuclear meltdown.

I watched the news with horror and sadness over the loss of lives and the devastation. I agonised for a week over different options and all sorts of pro/con arguments regarding my trip but in the end i cancelled my trip. It wasn't an easy choice.

Japan to me has always been a very unique place. I'm not just talking about the ultra modern Tokyo. I'm talking about the festivals, the tradition, the people. My trip was to take me to Tokyo, Kyoto/Osaka, Hiroshima. I was planning to rent out a room in Tokyo through Sakura House, dump my stuff there and travel around the country lightly. It worked out cheaper than other types of accommodation and would give me a chance to meet expats who lived and worked in Tokyo. It is a bit tricky to book with them though as they only allow "advanced bookings" if you arrival coincides with a room being available no longer than 2 weeks, that can be a bit tricky. The best thing to do then is just wait till you have 2 weeks left before you arrive and book then.

I haven't given up my dream. It has just been postponed to next years Cherry Blossom season, who knows, maybe by then I'll have enough to keep me there longer than a month!

If you are interested in helping Japan recover, please donate to the Japan and Pacific Disaster Appeal. While Japan is a country that bounces back well from disasters, its people still need all the help they can get and any little bit extra can go a long way.



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