They Called Me Gaijin: Preface

Resting in Kyu-Shibarikyu Onshi-teien

I had read the historical and cultural sections that prefaced the thick traveler’s guide I had purchased for my trip. I had packed a 40lb Osprey back pack with enough clothes and clean pairs of underwear to last me six days in dry and favorable weather conditions. I had a picture of my dog Gulliver on my best friend’s digital camera that he was letting me borrow, a stash of NYC postcards, novelty mugs and shot glasses adorned with “I heart NY’s”, a journal bound by a leather slip cover that my friend Arielle picked up for me during her studies in Spain, and a simple bronze hair clip clasped to one of the many nylon straps on the front of my pack which belonged to Lindsay (my friend/girlfriend sorta/ thing from college) who was two days and a night into her own adventure in Ireland and the UK.

I had taken care of my domestic affairs such as purchasing traveler’s med/evac insurance, notifying my credit card companies, mailing out thank you cards to all of my relatives for their generous graduation gifts that were about to be exhausted, and having a marrow bone surgically removed from my dog’s lower jaw that he had squeezed his bottom canines through the day before—making it the most expensive dog treat I have ever purchased, costing me approx. $350. Most importantly, I had my passport, boarding pass, and a general idea of where my gate was, where I would be catching my first of two planes toward my final destination of Japan—the land of the rising sun.

“Why Japan?”

Many of my family and friends had asked me that months, weeks, and days prior to my departure. There were numerous reasons for my decision: my best friend Allan is serving in the US Air Force at the Misawa US Military Base in Amonei Prefecture (one of the most northern regions of the main island of Honshu), it is a personal life goal of mine to have travelled to every continent in the world by the age of 30, Japan is one of the safest, most dynamic, and culturally rich countries in the world, but most of all, I love Sushi and I love eating.

That’s what put me on my first flight from JFK to Toronto Canada, where I would meet my first couple of spirited Co-travelers awaiting their connecting flight. See my next post to meet the strangers and to follow my two week journey.

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