Cody and I have been teased by the prospect of an extended trip to Japan for months and months and months. But our tickets are booked and it’s 99% official (barring month-long government shut down): we’re going to Japan.
I’ve been dreaming about getting out of the states for years, but the farthest I’ve gone is Bermuda – a lovely place, but not so foreign. I’m beside myself with excitement over our impending three-month trip, but I’m also terrified.
Of all the places I could have chosen to go, Japan was towards the bottom of my list. The highly-structured, honor-bound culture is way outside my comfort zone, and even though I call myself a foodie, the prospect of all that raw fish doesn’t really excite me. I’m more of a tartine or moules frites kind of lady. If life made sense, I would be going to France for my first time in a truly foreign country.
But Cody’s work is sending him to Japan for three months to launch a satellite, and I’m not an idiot, so I’m going with him. Honestly, it’s not that I’m not excited about going to Japan, I’m planning on having the time of my life, but I’m also intensely intimidated.
Contributing to my fear is the fact that we aren’t going to be staying in Tokyo or even mainland Japan. We’re staying on the tiniest spit of land in the region – a little island called Tanegashima. It’s going to take us two days to get there, and once we do, we’re going to get to practice our Japanese a lot, because the locals don’t speak English.
That picture above is a rice paddy on Tanegashima. This place is rural – the restaurants aren’t on Yelp, the hotels had to be arranged by a local fixer, and the only attraction is the space center. I think the airport has a McDonalds (correction – Cody just told me it doesn’t!), but the island is largely untouched by western culture, which is going to be so fascinating and so uncomfortable.
The photo above is a panorama of Cody’s hotel room from his last trip – tatami mats and sleeping on the floor.
The beaches look gorgeous, and supposedly Tanegashima is a little bit of a surfing destination.
Cody says the people are friendly and respectful and patient, but I haven’t been studying my Japanese so I’m sure I’ll test them in all areas.
This is a Japanese breakfast. Shriveled fish anyone? I’m sure it tastes better than it looks.
Rain, mist, green.
Some Tanegashima sushi!
Models of rockets launched from the Tanegashima Space Center.
Water and trees on the grounds of a temple in Kagoshima, the nearest big city (you have to cross ocean to get to it). UPDATE: just kidding, that temple is in Narita, but Kagoshima is the nearest city.
Did I warn you that this was going to be a huge photo dump?
That weirdness above is inside a medicine shop. UM. I’ve decided to not get sick while I’m there.
I know there’s a lot more to Japanese cuisine than sushi. I’m really looking forward to broadening my palate and eating some real ramen.
And lastly, the famous Hotel Chapel Christmas. Your one and only destination for all-Christmas, all-the-time, hourly “sleeping” accommodations in Narita. Not kidding.
Pinch me! And then give me some advice. I’m anticipating a mind-blowing trip, and I don’t know how to begin to prepare.
You will probably feel like an alien visitor to another planet, but that's okay! Soak it all in. You will come home richer.Carrie — October 4, 2013
That is going to be an adventure! Sounds like learning surfing and Japanese would be some good moves. It'll be fun just to see the scenery though! Looks beautiful. I'm excited for you guys.miranda — October 5, 2013
Love the pictures. You'll come home with lots of stories about food no doubt! What a fantastic chance to soak in Japanese culture.Lisa — October 8, 2013