Monday, January 5, 2015

Weekend Exploration of Japan

I often daydream about just packing up and leaving the country. Just, "oh! Today I think I'll go explore the highlands of Scotland or hmmm, I could go for some Naples pizza right now." 
And then of course, I get back to real life and spend my weekends more conventionally. 
Most of the time. 
But in 2014 I made two spontaneous trips, both springing from the idea, WHY NOT?

And that is how I ended up in Japan in late November on my weekend. Robin said she wished I could be there....and I thought...why not? Booked my flight and off I went. 
San Diego, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Fukuoka. And a gorgeous 2hr drive to Sasebo. 
While the Japanese countryside was just breathtaking, I have to admit that the idea of sleeping in a nice warm bed in this marvel of a home was equally thrilling to me after my long journey.

The details of her home are stunning and Robin's taste in furnishings is impeccable.
After a glorious death-like sleep the two of us headed of in search of adventure and antiques in the tiny village of Akizuki.

Robin had booked an appointment for us to be dressed in traditional kimonos that were ours for the day as we explored the village.
Doesn't she look beautiful? The dressing process is about a 30 minute, very intricate procedure. And walking in those shoes is no joke!
I loved every minute of it.  
We happened to wander into a preserved Samurai house, and just like everything else in Japan it blew me away with its beauty.

I didn't know anywhere could be so peaceful and so beautiful. It felt like traveling back in time, no noisy time machine required. Just a quiet, tranquil, slipping into the past...
This is the woman who dressed us, everyone was so kind and so excited to see Americans enjoying their culture and attempting (poorly) to speak their language.

Caught checking my photos!

If every season is as gorgeous as fall is there then I don't know why anyone would ever leave!
I felt like we could have stayed in Akizuki forever, but we eventually were forced back to the present as the sun sank lower, and with it, the temperatures. 
The next day  Robin showed me the more modern town of Sasebo which is close to Nagasaki. 

We walked and laughed and walked. Explored shops and alleyways and wondered at strange products that we couldn't begin to decipher the use for. 
But ice cream? We can ALWAYS find a reason to eat ice cream.
We maayyy have underestimated the serving size...
We both eyed this monster suspiciously...
And then promptly gobbled it all up. We made a few more stops....

Then went in search of my final Japanese sunset. We raced up the mountainside to catch a glimpse of it disappearing over 99 islands.

There couldn't have been a more perfect ending to a perfect trip. I completely fell in love with this country in my short stay. The land is beyond beautiful and her people are some of the most polite, accommodating and friendly people I have ever met in all my travels. 

Is it any wonder that it is one of my life goals never get stuck in the mundane? To not let myself make excuses? 

I encourage all of you, if it's possible, even if it's sounds crazy crazy crazy, GO FOR IT! Whether it's taking a day to do nothing or starting that big project or spontaneous travel, I promise you'll rarely regret it more than you will regret not giving it a shot. 

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