A trip to Japan has always seemed like something far in the distance. It was something I wanted to do and knew I would eventually get to, but I didn’t have any plans for it. After learning Japanese for a year, you’d think someone like me would have been on a plane months ago. The pessimist side of my personality has kept me from realizing this goal, but I’ve finally decided to begin planning and saving up for the trip of a lifetime. But just how will I get there and what will I do when I finally arrive?
There are a few different ways I plan to accomplish this. I am a broke college student who can barely afford living expenses as it is, but a golden opportunity has been brought to my attention. The Japanese government is planning on giving away 10,000 free tickets to Japan in order to boost its tourism industry. The catch? The recipient must pay all other expenses and document the trip on their blog. Umm… hello! I have been blogging for over a year and I would be more than happy to share my experiences here! The biggest obstacle will be my living expenses. After talking to a friend, I was informed of the inflation and expensive hotel rates. But why should I let that stop me? I will be doing plenty of research on how to “rough it” while in Japan. For example, capsule hotels and manga cafes aren’t the most glamorous places to stay, but they are well worth the price.
Japan is not as small as one may think. Many people have the impression that Tokyo is a big city like New York and that’s all there is to see in the country. In reality, Tokyo is GIGANTIC and there are tons of interesting things to do there and all around the country no matter what you’re into. What exactly do I want to see while on my trip? I think I will have more trouble narrowing it down than actually paying for the trip. Do I want to stay in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures? Do I want beaches? Small towns? And it all depends on what season I decide to visit. There are so many choices. I have decided that I want to visit a traditional Japanese inn and Tokyo is definitely on the list. Well… that’s a start at least.
After studying this language for a year, I’ve realized that I haven’t come as far as I had hoped. One thing is for sure, in Japan I do not want to rely solely on phrase books. One goal I have in mind is being able to successfully order food without just pointing to something and saying “Hitotsu, kudasai”. Being able to get the gist of most of the signs around me would be extremely helpful as well. And also being comfortable enough to ask questions and to get recommendations from natives would be fantastic. I don’t want to be able to just barely get by. I want to put my skills to use and know that all this studying has been worth it.
I admit that while it has only been a few weeks since I decided I’d take this trip, I am already getting discouraged. Friends tell me that I don’t know what I’m getting into and one even commented that I could use the money to buy a car rather than to travel to a foreign country. I’ve been doubting my decision, but I want to stay firm. I only have one life to live and it’s about time I do something that I’ve really wanted to do for a long time. So hopefully in a year from now I will be almost ready to take this trip, no matter what anyone says.
Minna-san, wish me luck!