Take Me Back // JAPAN

I can’t remember what I dreamt last night, but I woke up with a single thought in my head: “I have to go back to Japan.”

Someday I will.  I miss it all the time.  The food, the people, the sights and sounds.  I miss everything.  I want to eat real ramen, shop for candy and trinkets at the Daiso, snack on onigiri, ride my bike along the Tama, run up and down Mt. Ome, see the coast, the mountains, the city, take in the colors of the local festivals, everything.

Japan was the place I first made a conscious decision to travel.  I spent my school breaks in places like Thailand and Indonesia, and at home I would hop on the train with no set destination in mind, stepping off into unknown territory.

I spent the summers running with the cross country team through paddy fields and along the Tama river, stopping once in a while to jump in the water and cool off or to get a drink from a vending machine (special note to runners:  Japan has vending machines and toilets EVERYWHERE.  If you have yen, you’ll never bonk hard.  And you’ll never have to explain why you left for a run with two socks and returned with one).  After 8-12 miles in the bright, sticky heat we’d make a stop at 7-11 to get cold drinks to enjoy in the shade, giddy and happy and tired.

I was lucky enough to have family just a two-hour train ride away.  My aunt and uncle took my all over the country, from the mountains of Nozawa for the annual fire festival to the foggy beaches of the Izu Peninsula to quirky tourist attractions like the Ramen Museum or a Roppongi club called Abbey Road where Beatles cover bands take the stage.  We slept on tatami mats and ate fish at nearly every meal and always said Oishikatta (“It was delicious”) afterwards, although after a while I yearned for something simple and American like a PB&J.

Unfortunately, I did not start documenting my travel moments through photography until after I had left Japan.  One more reason to go back!  Here are a few from my facebook archives:

Ramen and Milk Tea

Ramen and Milk Tea

Festival Lights

Festival Lights

Climbing Fuji-San on a Perfect Day

Climbing Fuji-San on a Perfect Day

In other news, I finished my final exams today.  Let the summer adventures begin!

Favorites // FLAGSTAFF, AZ

They say it’s a small world, but Earth is a pretty big place.  I am under no impression that I’ve truly seen the world.  I’ve seen 19 countries of 200+ in existence, and how much of these countries have I really been exposed to?  I haven’t even experienced all that my own home country has to offer.

While I have many places left to explore, I have a few favorites.  One of them is Flagstaff, Arizona.  I’ve written before that home is a difficult concept for me, but in my heart, Flagstaff feels like home.  My aunt and uncle have retired from their jobs as travelling educators and settled in the area.  But maybe “settled” is the wrong word.. They are still very much on the move, and I love joining them on their adventures.

One such adventure: the nearby Chocolate Falls, located in the Painted Desert on Navajo land.  We took a bumpy drive through the dirt and dust to hike and explore and climb on the rocks.

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But there’s more to Arizona than desert.  Last summer we took a trip to Lockett Meadow for some (more) hiking and stargazing.

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It was a beautiful clear night and I saw my first shooting star!  Morning was just as pleasant.  I slept in the bed of the truck and woke with the morning light to a peaceful forest scene.  I warmed up with a cup of bitter black tea.

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Flagstaff, I hope to see you again soon.