In December 2015 I booked a trip to Japan on a whim.

(It was my birthday and a good error fare is more irresistible than Chik-fil-A on a Sunday.) It turned out to be the best vacation I’ve ever been on. The country is beautiful and I visited in April at peak cherry blossom season which gave me the chance to see the Japanese playing tourist at home – everyone, everyone, everyone wants to see those blossoms.

I started in Tokyo, then went to Kyoto and spent a day in Osaka. Those buds dictated a lot of my travel itinerary.

Stroll the walking paths at Ueno Park and rent a paddle boat to get prime time shots of the blossoms from the water? Check.
Visit Maruyama Park, grab a table under the blossoms, and drink plum wine? Check.
Stop traffic in the middle of downtown Tokyo to take photos of the blossoms? No one has any place to be other than where these flowers are. Check.

Also, as far as I could tell, matching outfits are an art form appropriate for small children, best friends, romantic partners, and all persons other than those persons. I tried to tell these guys I don’t coordinate socks and hairstyles before I meet up with my crew.


Immediately regretted it.

The best part about Japan, though, was how nice everyone was. And I don’t mean nice in that on the first night, we got lost 3 short blocks from our hotel and a taxi driver loaded us and our luggage into his car for free because we were so clearly hopeless and he pitied our survival skills (this did in fact happen). Although I’ve never experienced a taxi driver so concerned with my well-being, I do imagine this could happen in America. I mean nice in that we mistakenly wandered into a restaurant that had just closed and instead of shooing us out, the non-English speaking hostess pantomimed with us until she figured out we were in search of music and alcohol and then walked with us out of her building and through a maze of alleyways until we got to an open and very popular bar. Nice in that they plant gorgeous tulips along the city streets and no one steals them or hacks them to pieces (DC, why can’t we have nice things?). Nice in that we never heard a single siren. Nice in that the appropriate response to saying “thank you” is “thank you.” Just. So. Nice.

I miss it. And I will be back, maybe this time for the fall foliage 🍁

Posted by:mdchastang

2 replies on “Those Who Wander: Japan

    1. Ha that image is actually not the Canadian symbol on my phone (where I drafted this). It is quite orange and sits askew. I’m happy to donate the current image to Randy’s post on Toronto!


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