When my dad asked me what I was planning to do during the summer holidays I simply shrugged, knowing that ‘be on the internet’ wasn’t an answer he wanted to hear. I wasn’t expecting him to suggest I go to Japan. I didn’t believe him. I hadn’t stopped to think that it would be possible for me to actually go to Japan so soon in my life; it was a dream I had been looking forward to for years. I had always looked at it from a hypothetical point of view, thinking that one day I would go, planning imaginary trips and thinking about myself there in some future. And suddenly that one day was today.
It took me a week to process what that really meant, but after that there was no getting the idea out of my head. I was going to Japan. I had been saving money since I was twelve, so I had enough for a trip. I was going to Japan. The idea was presented to me at the end of April and I knew I couldn’t leave school, I’d have to go in July or August.
I’d only ever travelled alone once before, when I was a kid. The airport staff gave me a sticker and assigned me a guide that would walk me through the airport and to the plane, making sure I got to my destination safely. I wasn’t a kid anymore and I’d be receiving no sticker. I was going to have to deal with everything by myself from the moment my parents waved me goodbye until I got back. As a 19 year old I knew how to cook and wash my clothes and walk around a city on my own, so I didn’t really have any worries about solo travel, but everyone else in my family figured it was a big step towards “independent life”.
My planning began. The first step consisted in figuring out how long I would be there, what cities and towns I wanted to visit, where I was going to stay. I quickly settled for a two week stay in only Tokyo, I didn’t have money for more time, I didn’t want to deal with long-distance travelling inside Japan on my first trip and there was plenty for me to do in the capital alone.
My interest for Japan awakened when I was eleven years old, and when my grandma gave me a map of Japan for my birthday I quickly put it up on my bedroom wall. Ever since then I’ve been pinning down all the places I want to travel to. When I ran out of pins I started writing them down but kept losing the pieces of paper. Since then I’ve transferred the data to Google Maps. I didn’t need ideas or help figuring out what places I wanted to visit, I was going to see everything.
Organising my trip to Japan was all about choosing which places I thought I needed to visit, the ones I could never forgive myself for if I skipped them. Eventually, this was my final itinerary:
I didn’t manage to go to all the places on my itinerary.