September 16, 2021

The Endless Journey

This article explains why I feel that I'll need many more lifetimes to finally visit all of the many hidden gems in Japan that are on my list.

A misty trail along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route in Wakayama Prefecture

As I sit down to write this, it’s 6:00 AM on a Saturday morning and I am traveling on a bullet train bound for Shiga Prefecture in western Japan. Prior to opening up a new story in my editor, I was lazily gazing out the window at the bucolic countryside. Lost in thought, I soon found myself pondering just how many lifetimes I would need to experience all the destinations on my ever-growing bucket list. The damn backlog is basically like a hydra. Everytime I hit the road, I discover two or three more allures such that I never make any progress. My only hope is to be of such service to Japan that when I die, I am reincarnated here and able to continue the adventure.

As noted several times in previous articles, I quite literally invest every single yen that I earn working as a freelance digital marketer in Tokyo into traveling. Being transparent, I barely have any savings other than a few months of float should the proverbial fecal matter hit the fan. Other than this, I invest everything else into traversing the prefectures. While I am not sure if it’s healthy to spend every last yen of my disposable income, what I can tell you is that I am happy to be of service to Japan. Besides, it seems the more time, energy, and funds I invest into this amazing place, the more it gives back to me in the form of new opportunities. #NotFinancialAdvice

Japan’s national flag, the Hinomaru

Now, a lot of people ask me why I never want to visit overseas locales and do the whole “international travel influencer” shtick. Here, you simply need to understand that I am hopelessly addicted to Japan. As my fellow cult member is often fond of saying, my heart is embroiled with the Hinomaru (Japan’s flag). What’s more, there’s just far too many places that I need to experience here in Japan to even consider overseas attractions. Perhaps, after millennia of wandering Japan, I’ll find the time to consider other countries. Then again, by that time, there will be countless more spots here to explore.

How can Japan have THAT much content you ask? Well, think of it this way. There are in total 47 prefectures in Japan and in what is now five years of nonstop travel, I still have not managed to visit all of them yet. That alone should serve as a baseline insomuch as it comes to explaining Japan’s depth. While the need to fly to far flung destinations in Shikoku and Kyushu are indeed a contributing factor, the fact remains that there is just so much to see and do in Japan that I’ll never get to it all.

A samurai domicile area in Akita Prefecture's Kakunodate

Of course, on top of all of this, you also need to understand that each and every region in Japan has its own seasonal charm as well. This means that you need to multiply an infinite number of adventures by four. Are you starting to see why I’d never want to actually escape the Buddhist cycle of Samsara yet? At the very least, sites like Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture deserve to be seen during the cherry blossom season and likewise, when the autumn leaves are at their finest. Alas, Kakunodate is not alone in this regard. Sadly for my wallet, I also need to witness many other sites like Akizuki in Fukuoka at several different points throughout the year too.

Am I not a bit deranged when it comes to my infatuation with Japan? Perhaps, but from my perspective, those who cannot grasp what a truly amazing country Japan is are indeed the crazy ones. My potential derangement aside though, when you consider all the many attractions and seasonal allures that Japan boasts, you’d have to be a real fool not to return for a visit. In fact, I’m of the mind (and many comments on my social media content support this) that one’s experience in Japan actually gets better with each subsequent trip. As you start to become more and more familiar with the culture, you’re able to appreciate Japan at even deeper levels.

A statue of the Buddhist deity Kannon stands by a Shinto torii as an example of the syncretic Shinbutsu Shugo union of the two

Part of my aim here on this blog is to serve as a curator and aid people in finding locales that they might otherwise never have stumbled upon. After all, I don’t really expect you, the reader, to spend the entirety of your free time combing through Google Maps for potential spots. By bridging the divide between known and unknown, my content goal is, and always will be, to help people encounter the extraordinary places they may not know exist. I call this the Wikipedia problem; articles on these hidden gems have already been published but unless you’re aware of the destinations, you’ll never encounter them in a search engine.

In closing, as hinted many times in articles over the years, my writing is really just a convenient excuse to justify my incessant travels. Even if I were to one day stop publishing here I would, without a doubt, continue on with this endless journey. That said, I really do enjoy being able to share the many wonders of Japan with all of you; besides, it would be quite lonely trekking across the country all by myself. While I do attempt to occasionally monetize my blog here and there via my Buy Me a Coffee page and promotional gigs with tourism boards, at the end of the day, the real reason that I write is that I just want to continue to share Japan with all of you.

Until next time travelers….