No matter how often we are forewarned, our children grow up quicker than we ever thought possible. Somehow, my baby Jack has managed to turn 18, graduate from high school and convince me of the wisdom of a gap year. I was skeptical at first; he didn’t have much of a plan. But he seems to have pulled it together. I asked if he’d do some guest blogging for me. Much to my surprise, he agreed… enthusiastically.
His first notes are from Japan. He had gone with me when he was six, this time he was traveling on his own. It was quite a different experience.
I arrived in Tokyo exhausted. Checked into my packed hostel. After a short meal at a 5-person Raman restaurant I fell asleep in my box. 26 other people, each in their own box, shared the room. In my entire stay I only saw two, both at checkout.
Day two I went to Kyoto. The historic capital is saturated with shrines, gardens and enough beauty to last a tourist a month. I spent 5 days, only staying that long to fully explore the nightlife with newfound friends. Though I saw the most symmetrical sand castle in the world, a golden building and a mountain path covered with orange arches my highlight was the two occasions I stepped out of nightclubs shocked to see the sun shining on empty streets.
Nara is home to the biggest Buddha in Japan. Deer roam the streets like people. But what made Nara really cool was an old theme park. Abandoned for ten years it was ideally derelict recalling something of Chernobyl. Eerie and absolutely breath taking. I spent sunset atop a rusted out rollercoaster and dusk walking about the Disney inspired landscape. I fully expected a clown to pop-out and chase me with a chainsaw. It is slated for demolition in the next few months.
Osaka was a must. It has Ken and Tomoko’s new restaurant Kodan. [Ken and Tomoko are friends of ours from Vancouver who owned one of our favorite restaurants of all time. We were heartbroken when they decided to return to Japan] After eating their food in Vancouver on average once a week for seven years their two year absence from my life was painful. The only small comfort was now Ken has full freedom to buy any fish he wants. He gave me bite after bite of perfect fish and described each slice as it came. I have never been happier after a meal.