I moved to Japan in January of 2007. Over the next year I visited quite a few places around Japan: Nagasaki, Kobe, Nara, Shikoku, Nagano, Yokohama, Tokyo. It was a fun and exciting time, traveling around the country seeing various places and eating wonderful food. Since then I have gotten into a routine of work and play, mostly staying near where I live in Otsu, Shiga. Occasionally I go to Kyoto with friends who are visiting Japan, once or twice a year I go to Osaka for Smith’s seminars. There is an unfortunate expression which came to my mind: Never a tourist in your hometown. Otsu is my new hometown and I rarely go to famous sightseeing spots.
Never a Tourist in your Hometown
Thinking a little more about this concept I realized that I live in Japan, I am not a tourist here. Would you believe that I have lived here since 2007 and I have never been to see Mount Fuji? In fact I have only seen Fuji twice- once from the air and once from the train. I have been to Kyushu only once, over 16 years ago. Never flown anywhere domestically. I can’t remember the last time I rode the bullet train. I’ve never been to Okinawa or Hokkaido. When you live somewhere, you often forget to be a tourist there as well. The same realization comes to me in class, when students ask me about Canada.
Not a Tourist in Canada
I was born and raised in Nanaimo BC Canada. Located on Vancouver Island, my hometown is only 45km from Vancouver and yet I realized how little I know about Vancouver, and how few places in Vancouver I’ve actually been to. Our students often travel to Vancouver and ask me for sightseeing advice. I give the suggestions but when they ask me for more details, I usually have to admit that I have never actually been there.
My childhood experience with Vancouver was primarily passing through to the airport, or going for a day to see a concert. I have never been a tourist there either. As for the rest of Canada: I’ve never been to Niagara Falls, I’ve never seen the Northern Lights (Aurora) and I was in Toronto only once, when I was 5. I’ve never been to the Rocky Mountains, I’ve never skied Whistler (the most famous ski resort in Canada), I’ve never been to the east coast.
I think the key is to make time for travel. There are so many wonderful things to do and places to see and all that is required is an effort to make the time. I want to travel around Japan. My kids are big now and it is easy and fun to travel with them. Where should I go? Okinawa would be nice. Tom recently visited Himeji Castle. I think I should make a Bucket List of places to go in Japan. One item on my bucket list would be to visit Jim in Sagamihara and try some of the great food he talks about. I live in Kansai yet have never been to Wakayama therefore maybe a visit with Chani at Smiths School of English Wakayama and a trip to Adventure World or Shirahama Beach.
How about you? Where have you always dreamed of going? I suggest that you make a plan, make the time, and go for it! You only live once. Tell us what travel plans are on your bucket list in the comment section below. I look forward to hearing about your plans and then seeing them in action.
Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu