Japan Closing Advice

Wrapped hiking stick from Fuji-san ready for the plane ride home

Wrapped hiking stick from Fuji-san ready for the plane ride home

Random Observation/Comment #103: It’s hard to say goodbye, but I guess I never left – I guess I never have to.  I’ve been reliving the memories for the past 2 ½ months and it’s been the most enjoyable moments in my life.  Every morning in front of my laptop on the LIRR, I am in my writing zone with the classical music playing in the background.  I close my eyes and try to piece together all the memories of my senses and emotions.  I wish it would play like a movie, but there are all of these glitches in the audio, video, touch-io, smell-io, and taste-io departments (I know the technical terms, but this is funnier).  There are scenes where it’s perfect, but I’m lucky if I get most of them with two out of five.  I often remember the moments that I really tried hard to capture, but oddly, this clip from my past does not have associated feelings.  It’s like my memory can’t concentrate on my senses and my emotions at the same time.  For example, I clearly remember the few minutes of the sunrise as I looked over my camera recording, but the moment when the sun looked like a yolk dropping into this liquid sky, the senses are replaced with emotions and thoughts.  It’s weird because I can then repaint the picture based on the way I remember feeling.  It’s no longer the same picture, but it brings the emotions just the same. When I reread these entries in my old age, I hope I still have this valuable skill.  I hope I can still roam the 4th dimension in my dreams – not in hopes to alter anything to cause a rift in the space-time continuum, but to be a spectator of an unforgettable part of my life.

 I basically wrote an entry for every day I was in Japan.  What a good idea.  So what have I learned from this social project and what do I suggest for people who want to keep a travel blog?

  • Write Selectively. Don’t spend as much time as I did/do writing about everyday as if it were the highlight of your entire trip because it will take up all of your time and you will be as addicted as I am.  I kept an excel file with a two-column table indicating the date and activity.  I filled this in everyday before I slept just to summarize the main things that happened.  Each activity box only had bulleted events like “university trip – paragliding” or “capsule hotel” to spark my memory.
  • Maintain personal style when writing.  When you write the entries, don’t forget to include your reflections of your everyday senses because if you write for yourself, you don’t just want a quick crappy summary that you could find on the places’ website.  Capture the moment in your own way – that’s what makes the writing enjoyable; the rush of memories and corresponding emotions with every sentence keeps me tapping my arm for the vein (maybe I went too far).
  • Carry around a Notepad or type it into your iPhone.  My back pocket always had a pen and notepad ready to write down the next observation.  I had filled 5 little 50 page notebooks before leaving Japan.  If you’re not a writer, have one handy anyway to keep track of expenses, write down important Japanese phrases, and collect numbers from girls you meet at clubs (especially Gai-jin clubs – no problem whatsoever).
  • Take pictures, but don’t forget to look around.  My camera had grown its own hunger to capture everything and anything my eyes saw, but don’t live your life through that small LCD screen.  Sometimes you just have to fight the urge, and keep it safe in your mind.  The pictures are supposed to aid your memories, not replace them.  Don’t forget to bring extra memory cards, battery chargers, and an external storage device to transfer all 20 GB of pictures (maybe that last one is just for me).
  • Find your own writing routine.  My personal routine of writing is during my commute to and from school.  When I was in Japan, I wrote during some of the late nights when I was left alone in my little room without Internet or television.  An active trip will not have this free time to stay at home and write.  Resort to reflecting on these memories when you’re finished with the trip and back to your normal (and hopefully not too boring) routine.
  • Fool around with different writing styles.  I found it boring writing the same way every day as a chore so I approached every blog entry with a different perspective.  There are days where I feel like writing serious reviews and other times where I let myself drift off into a random trail.  You can write stories about yourself in the third person if you’d like, but I think exploring different writing styles will keep the memories interesting.

My next adventure is Europe.  I will be there for at least 4 months studying at Hamburg University starting in March.  The blogging and copious amount of pictures will continue when I’m there.  I’m considering focusing on actually offering factual information about the places I visit, but I think too many other sites do this.  I’d like to find a happy mixture of expressing my experiences, adding my little quirks and side stories, and giving useful advice for travelers.


~See Lemons Wait for the Next Adventure