I’m not quite sure exactly when I first became fascinated by Japan. Perhaps when I started reading historical (and some fantasy) fiction set in the samurai/Edo era, or maybe when I discovered Japanese art (Ukiyo-e), or possibly it was watching Studio Ghibli films that did it for me. Although it also could have been, subconsciously, as far back as playing Zelda and Pokemon. All I know is I had been wanting to visit the so-called ‘land of the rising sun’ for what seemed like forever.
It was not something that I thought I’d actually get to do as early in my life as 2014 – at 23 years old – mainly because I figured I’d have to work and save for a few years first, plus find the right person to travel with. Well, I decided after a year of employment that I would be able to, and deserved to, make my Japan dreams a reality. As for finding the right person to travel with… in the end I decided it would be better for me if I went it alone – rather than sitting around and waiting for someone who not only wanted to go with me but would actually be interested in the things I wanted to do and see. I do not regret that decision one bit.
I planned my holiday with Inside Japan Tours which seemed like a great option for a first time (and lone) traveller to Japan. But I wasn’t on a guided or group tour in the traditional sense, I was on my own for the most part. It was more of a self-guide tour. They tailored my holiday to my specifications, meaning that I stated the kinds of things I wanted to do and the places I wanted to visit and they arranged accommodation for me in those places as well as transport between them. As for what I did in each place, that was mostly up to me although they did throw in my ticket for the Studio Ghibli museum. They also planned for me to visit traditional samurai villages, take part in a tea ceremony whilst wearing an authentic kimono and stay in some traditional Japanese inns. I don’t think I could have organised much of that by myself – not without intense research and planning anyway.
On 11th April 2014 I boarded my flight to Tokyo – completely alone and having never before left Europe nor been on a flight of more than 3 hours – to begin my adventures of a lifetime in Japan. And so, here is my travel journal, written whilst in Japan and accompanied by just some of the 4000+ photographs that I took on my camera and iPhone. Enjoy!
This is Japan:
This was my planned route:
You can also read my ‘Japan, April 2014: The Highlights’ post over on my blog: here
‘Myths about Japan… or are they?’ post: here
If you've found this travel journal without knowing who I am,
and are interested in getting in touch to talk about Japan or ask me anything, you can tweet me or drop me an email. Thanks for looking!
There is now a 200-page book version! And you can view the whole book digitally here:
ps. The title ‘five thousand miles’ comes from the song Transient Love by The Menzingers, who are one of my favourite bands. Their new album, Rented World, was basically the soundtrack to my Japan Trip. Now when I listen to it, I feel like I’m back on a Japanese highway bus, also it is a really great album and I adore that song. And of course, Japan is 5000 miles away from the UK (well, closer to 6000 actually but same difference.)