Over the last few days, I’ve been in Hida Takayama, in Japan’s Central Gifu Prefecture. Like many places in Japan, I had been as a little kid but as life got busier, my family rarely found the time to travel places outside of Tokyo or Nagano. It’s fun to return as an adult, especially as I begin my tour guiding job with Walk Japan. Takayama is also Denver’s Sister City (along with Nairobi interestingly enough). Last year I translated and tour guided for the delegation that came and this year I will get a chance to do the same. They always talk about how incredible the 4th of July Fireworks were at Coors Field.
We did all kinds of things there, but the most interesting was the Unesco World Heritage Site of Shirakawago. There, traditional thatched-roof huts are still lived in by rice farmers. The outsides look dilapidated, but get a peek inside and you see modern air-conditioning units and nice cars in garages. Japan is the ultimate mix of modern and traditional ways of life, and Shirakawago is probably one of the most visible demonstrations of that clash.
I’ve also been reading about the history of Japan, discovering all kinds of things I didn’t know as I tour places I’ve never been. It’s fascinating to live in a place, then read about the events, people and places that made things the way they are today.
I’ve been trying to add some pictures of my Takayam trip to this post, but for some reason WordPress is not letting me. Check out my instagram and facebook
After getting back from Japan on February 4th, I spent the last month driving around the Western US, playing pickleball, doing clinics and setting up Paddletek dealers. It’s been a fun time where I met a lot of interesting people. Lots and lots of driving though.
One of the most notable outcomes of this trip was that my business partner Mike Stahl and I have decided to put together a pickleball trip to Japan in October of 2015. We’re going to do sightseeing, have cultural experiences, feast on Japanese food, and of course play pickleball. The Fall is my favorite time of year in Japan with the leaves changing color, cool weather and fruits like apples, grapes and asian pears in season. Please get in contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if this might be something that interests you.
Again, for the next few months I find myself going back to Japan again. In the past I’ve been nervous about going, not sure what my job would entail and whether it would be different going back as an adult. It was, but I liked it. When I return, I’m getting to do my dream job. I’ll be working for a company called Walk Japan, leading walking tours from Kyoto to Tokyo. We walk 10-15 miles a day, eat picnic lunches in rural settings and talk about the history, culture and life of Japan while walking along an ancient trade route. In April the cherry blossoms will be out in full force and looking at them will be my job.
In some ways I am ready to travel less. I get tired of always having to rely on other people for places to stay and feel bad how they go out of their way to make me dinner and breakfast. I want to be the one to make breakfast sometimes too. Then I think, maybe that’s the point. It’s humbling to know that staying with people gives them the opportunity to serve me. It’s harder than being the one who other people rely on. I’m the one that needs help. I’ve learned a great deal by staying with so many people and am truly thankful for their hospitality and generosity.
I say I want to travel less, and yet I keep getting jobs that make me travel more. I still love the travel business and believe that what I’m doing is important. I’m helping people create memories that will last a lifetime. With that, I’m off to Japan once again. My double life continues as I return to the US in July, this time to work as a Japanese speaking interpreter and guide to groups coming from Japan. Life is never boring :)