One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
-Henry MillerWhat is it about travel that causes one to gain insight and see the world from a different perspective? And, especially upon coming back, to cherish the experience even more all the while seeing day-to-day living much differently?
As an adventure traveler, I didn’t expect myself visiting Japan anytime soon because I considered it expensive and a super-safe tourist destination – I was saving Japan for retirement. Nonetheless, the winds of change took me there on short notice, so I decided to try living there to see what I could discover. I was pleasantly surprised to encounter some hurdles and get a total culture shock.
All too often, when we travel, we tend or impose our values on another culture or see a place through our eyes. This really limits our experience. By exercising some humility, we can gain so much more from traveling. At first glance from a Western point of view, one might say that in Japan, people work too hard, are too polite, and are backwards or closed-off because so few Japanese speak English. To find out more, I skipped the tourist hot-spots, bought a used bike to coast around town in, armed myself with a functional level of Japanese, and did my best to integrate myself into day-to-day life to see what I could learn.
Here are some things I picked up.