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Good day! (こんにちは!)

Now that I’ve had some time to recover from lingering jet lag and to get my housework under control, I’d like to spend a few posts talking about my trip to Tokyo last month! It was over all too quickly, but wonderful, and given the opportunity I’d love to return. I had a terrific time and had more than enough fun things to do within the city alone, but I’d love to go back sometime during a warmer season and see more of the country. The farthest from central Tokyo I ever actually got was Narita airport itself, which is an hour and a half’s ride from where I stayed, in Shinjuku ward – primarily known as the “Skyscraper District” where many businesses and the metropolitan government have their offices. It’s only one of 23 ‘special wards,’ or neighborhoods, in Tokyo itself, but it’s got twice the population of the city I live in plus some.

In the US we have what’s called “urban sprawl” – city centers or “downtowns” are often quite small compared to the overall population that surrounds them in various suburban areas. In my city in particular, the “business district” is often rather empty-looking after many workers go home for the day. Shinjuku certainly didn’t have that sort of thing going on – there are always plenty of people, whether at work or shopping or at home, and there’s no room for “urban sprawl.” Things go vertically. Tall skyscrapers, yes, but also multiple levels of businesses, shopping arcades and transport systems under the ground. That’s not to say that you can’t get around Tokyo without going under the ground – it’s possible – but not easy, and probably not much fun. So it’s not really a city I’d recommend for anyone with an absolute phobia of tunnels…unless you’re ready to face that fear and get over it!

And that brings me to the point of this introductory post – after this, they’ll be day by day recollections of what I did in Tokyo while I was there. The point is, if you really want to travel to Japan – or anywhere, really – but think it’s out of reach: face that fear and get over it. I’m not saying you should sell everything you own to get airfare, or start begging other people for money, or anything unrealistic or irresponsible. Just don’t give up! Do what you can to reach that goal if it’s what you really want, and when you finally get the means and a chance, take it. Now, I know traveling alone is not for everyone, and some consider it risky – but I had wanted to make the trip for years, things in my life happened that made it possible, and I did it by myself. Even if it seems impossible, you never know what turns life may take. No guarantees, but if you do it, alone or with someone you care about, I think you’ll be pretty glad you did. No regrets here.

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