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An Ending and a Beginning

Saying goodbye to Japan

One year later.

More than three months (I think?) since my last post. I'm right on schedule... I've been off work for the past few weeks, getting ready to move back to Vancouver in just a few days now. It's been busy, but that's hardly a good excuse.
In any case, I've had some time to reflect on the journey I've undertaken in Japan. Now that I'm nearing the end I can't help but look back at the person I was and the challenges I faced at the beginning of last year. It's amazing how you can live day to day without noticing any perceptible change in yourself but when you take some time to reflect on a broader scale, the differences can be jarring.
That said, I absolutely feel the need to thank everyone who made this past year a possibility for me. All of the support I've been given from family and friends has made all the difference. When times were tough, you were there. If not for all of you, those tough times would have been more frequent.
It's kind of funny that in the midst of all of the mourning over 2016 being a terrible year, I quietly had one of the best years of my life. So thank you everyone for giving me the opportunity to do that even while you were being plagued with rain, snowstorms, and the southern election of He Who Must Not Be Named.

As excited as I am to see everyone in Canada and try to move forward in my professional life, I'm leaving Japan with a heavy heart.
I did more and saw more this year than I probably did in the past several years combined. I visited 34 of 47 Japanese prefectures. Dozens of cities. All of them were memorable in some way.

You'd think that after a few months worth of intense travel - trains, buses, planes, cars, bicycles, tired feet - I would be pretty much done with Japan.
That's the furthest thing from the truth. I'm certainly satisfied with the things I did and the experiences that I had, but there are so many stones I have yet to turn over. I may as well be standing in a field of boulders.
I actually have a hard time fathoming just how much is crammed into this little country. History, culture, nature - it has everything.

 

In my mind I've already decided that I'll be coming back sometime in the future.
So yes, I'm ready to move on to future challenges. But no, I haven't finished with Japan. Not hardly.

 

Now I said in my first post (I think) that I wasn't going to do a typical sort of travel blog with lists of things and rankings. I think in my extremely limited number of posts that I've adhered to that (not exactly difficult when there are only four). But here at the end I'm feeling more than a little nostalgic, and I want to share some of what makes Japan a special place to explore.
I'm not talking about reviews or rankings or itineraries. There are good sites for that, and if anybody needs recommendations I'd be happy to supply some. I want to discuss some of the aspects of Japan that I found most enjoyable or powerful, in my own way, and maybe some advice that I would have liked to have before setting off. A biased mosaic that is the furthest thing from exhaustive.
I hope to post these sections over the next little while, one piece at a time. The first one will be up shortly.

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