Iss. 8 || September 25rd, 2022

Viable Trip to Japan? It's (Less/More) Likely than You Think


Well, it's been a long time coming, but things seem to be very, very close to opening up on the Japan travel front. Starting from October 11th, a lot of current rules will be relaxed or done away with altogether. The visa exemptions for many countries that existed pre-pandemic will be put back into place, foreign traveler limits will be done away with, the current visa requirements will no longer be required, etc... for all intents and purposes, it looks like it will be the return to 'normal' Japan travel for people around the world.

This is super exciting, but it's also dampened a bit by just how long I've been waiting to hear this news. During the solid two (three?) year wait of wondering when I'd actually get to go to Japan, I flipped through so many different emotional states - not being able to shut up about the trip, getting defeated, completely giving up hope of ever getting there, getting obsessive and manic about looking up destinations again, acting like I didn't even want to go anymore, and eventually, just not even thinking about it at all. I really really held out hope that we'd hear news about the border opening in summer, but we missed out on that deadline, and now in the wake of the actual reopening, we have to navigate our actual real-life obligations again.

My mom and I are the ones who are taking the trip. We pretty much said that once the borders open back up, we were hopping on the VERY first plane available and flying to Tokyo, everything else be damned. But obviously that's not something that everybody has the luxury of doing in real life. We're now locked into the public school year schedule, which means that the very earliest possible trip we could take would be during Winter Break, followed by Spring Break, followed by the end of the school year. Best case, we could be there in three months - worst case, it would be nearly another entire year before we set foot in Japan. I know that I should be on the "we waited this long, we can wait another year" train, but God damn it, I just want to go so bad.

It doesn't help that two people I know have already made it there before I did - both for work-related reasons, but STILL, I can't help but be frustrated. I am so happy for them, don't get me wrong, but (bangs fist on the table) I said I wanted to go three freaking years ago and I am STILL waiting, and you guys just managed to slip in there on a whim?? I will be a tiny bit petty, as a treat.

Anyway, the wait has been so long that a lot of my blind excitement is gone. I know I'm going to have an insane and amazing time in Japan, but now we have to have a lot of tough conversations regarding when we want to go, if we're willing to split up the family for Christmas in order to get our trip accomplished faster, etc... That's really discouraging and draining. I read tourist-y stuff probably every day now, but it just feels like an obligation. Of course we have our list of places we really want to visit, but a lot of our trip will be focused on just exploring and stumbling upon cool restaurants and shops and places. I don't know; I want to go literally as soon as physically possible, but realistically I'm probably going to have to show some restraint and just deal with another year of waiting. It just makes me sad and I can't seem to drum up the positive feelings I held so strongly three years ago when we first pitched the trip as easily as I could back then.

Some things I'd really love to do when we go:

- Try to pick up a Jun Togawa or Tatsuro Yamashita CD
- Get crepes in Harajuku
- Visit a depachika
- Order okonomiyaki
- Eat taiyaki (a lot of these are food based lol)
- Visit some small art galleries
- Sniff around for old issues of Gekkan Ikki, or the August 2018 issue of Bessatsu Shonen Champion (I will translate Yarawaka Hunter Brothers or die trying)
- Practice the language if anyone is willing to talk to me
- ???
- Profit


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