Anticipating Japan

If you’re reading this, great. It’s a bit of an experiment really. 

My fifteen year old son and I will be boarding a plane to Japan later today. We had a big year last year, and I felt we needed an adventure. Sure, we could have opted for a two-week relaxation vacation, but maybe we’ll do that some other time. Right now I am looking at spending a busy twelve days in the East, and luckily the boy is happy to come along for the ride!

By way of an introduction, my name is Amanda and my son is called Sam. He really is a joy to be around. Of course I have to take the position of authority at times, and his love of Xbox and mine of art galleries aren’t always met with mutual admiration, but generally we muck along just fine.

I’m still somewhat horrified by how little time teenagers spend outside nowadays, especially Londoners. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time wandering, and wondering. Always the first up at the weekend, and with a brother who took the slow approach to life, I would be knocking on doors to see who was up and ready to play! It may have been the boys in the ‘council house’ or it may have been ‘Billo’ my surrogate Granddad who would sometimes give me a piece of fried bread or some home-made chips as he liked a good breakfast! 

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s get on with this adventure…

Turns out I booked our flights quite late in terms of availability and cost. How did I know there was a school holiday in Japan and it’s Sakura season, when the cherry blossom is exploding everywhere and the whole country will be in party-mode?

I had real problems securing accommodation, and liaising with hostelries etc. The nine-hour time difference was no help. After drawing a line under my efforts, I only checked exactly what I had booked six days ago. Turns out we are going to stay in seven different places - a lot of leg work then.

That headache aside, I generally love the planning stage of a trip - glancing at lines on a page, imagining what they might look like in three-dimensions with colour and sound; the anticipation of awakening the senses and ready for anything. 

You know the way when you have something in your mind, you’ll often find links in all sorts of places? Well, it was World Poetry Day earlier this week, and I took a flick through a book of poems I had somehow acquired from my secondary school and noticed this:


Looking Eastward by Edward Blunden

Down our street when I was a boy I met with a

         friendly man

Who took me to the stone-cross steps and said to me, 

         See Japan.

I stared at the East he pointed: never have I seen a 

       sky so fine,

A shining height of clouds sun-bright, and loftier 


And, See the Mountain, said my friend, and I traced

     the region cloud,

With intense wish to shape that peak, which made 

      him smile so proud.

I nearly saw, not that alone, but as it felt to me

Cities and domes and lakes and falls and even door-

       way and tree.

But just the final face of the thing came not; and I

       told him so,

I only knew that man was right and that I was 

       stupid and slow.

He smiled, and said I should find all out, and the

       words he left me were these:

I come from my shop to see Japan, and the Moun-

        tain, when I please. 


My last gift before we fly away, and hopefully get to keep you updated, is The Wanderer by Johnny Cash and U2. It speaks to me!


Extra reading… I stumbled across this blog