The last time i was set to go to Japan was in mid March 2011.  For those of you not may not recall they had just experienced one of their most catastrophic Tsunami’s when it hit the east coast on March 11th with such destructive force that my trip had to be abandoned.

Even after I saw the news reports I had thought that I would still make the trip, but it wasn’t until after my hotel in Tokyo contacted me to tell me “not to come” that the trip had to be put on ice.  Every aspect of the trip was refunded, but still left me feeling out of sorts.  Nothing worse than having a trip planned and at the last minute falling thru…am I right?  😉

Fast forward and here I am seven years later and still haven’t made it to Japan.  I guess that’s the good and bad with a traveling life in that I’ve always got a long list of places that I want to explore and just not been able to get back around to re-adding it on my list.

This year, as you know I had two big trips on my radar but Japan just seemed like the right choice this time around.  Last year I spent a lot of time in the middle east, Italy and central Europe plus China over Christmas, so I was due for another trip back to Asia.

Not just any trip, but to discover the ancient and old Japan.  The Japan of a bygone era with traditional Ryokan’s (Inns dating from the 8th century), temples and enchanting little tea houses…the things that dreams are made of.  Okay, so I’m a romantic at heart (hey, but you already knew that)…right?!

As you know I love to get off the tourist trails and discover the hidden gems.  One of my stops during my time in Japan will be in the town of Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture) on the north west coast of Japan overlooking the Sea of Japan and bordering their central Alps.  This region gets around 275 inches of snow each winter and another 95 inches of rain, so lots of precipitation if nothing else.

My objective for spending time in Kanazawa is both to visit the Castle (built in 1580), but also the town itself as many of its neighborhoods are still very traditional in architecture and vibe.  I’ve heard from a few insiders that Kanazawa really captures the essence of the “old Japan” without being too large or touristy.  Sounds perfect if you ask me!

Many people would argue that Kyoto (which I’m also visiting) provides a view into the past, whereas Kanazawa is not on the main tourist trail and therefore I’m hoping that I discover what I’m looking for…

So what am I looking for on my trip to Japan?

Well, the more I’ve pondered that very question the less clear I am about my expectations for visiting Japan, but must admit I’m feeling very drawn to it as I have for many years…seemingly beyond my control.  I know it sounds a little weird, but I’m surrendering myself and going with the flow.

It’s the story of my traveling life…if all else fails…stay open and ultimately surrender yourself all that is around you, this I find is when I have the best adventures. I’m trying not to have too many pre-conceived ideas about what I’ll discover and just follow my intuition and find what I find.

In fact, that’s not a bad approach to life in general!

We often get so caught up in the day to day that we forget that we each have only a finite amount of time in our lives and that we need to sometimes be daring and do the things that are not in the “paint by numbers” lives we’ve created for ourselves.

I realize the timing has to be right, and I guess the last six years have worked well for me as Zach and Sam have also been my traveling companions for many of my adventures.

Asia is not for everyone, and neither Zach or Sam, even if they could come on this trip are keen on traveling to Asia.  They’ve been and are happy with what they’ve seen and done, but don’t feel compelled to rush back anytime soon whereas I’m fascinated with the cultures, people and traditions that make up the vast melting pot of Asia.  From India to China, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and beyond – I’m always ready to explore.

Is it like Italy…no, but it definitely has its charms!  🙂

My trip is a full on 16 days starting in Japan for 8 days, then onto Singapore for 24 hours before jetting to Denpasar in Indonesia to spend an idyllic week in Ubud (Bali).

To be clear we each have this epiphany at sometime in our lives.  Whether its now or at some point in the future or whether its precipitated by a powerful life event or through your own realization it’ll come…trust me…it’ll come!

I feel fortunate that I had mine when I did and that I had the courage to take action and ultimately change the “soundtrack to my life” thus enabling me to explore the world on my terms.

Wow, its almost time to pack.   🙂

Until next week – ciao!