If anyone knew me 20 years ago, they might remember me as an anime-obsessed weeaboo who loved everything Japan, even more so than my own Korean heritage. Most everything I was interested was related to anime or Japanese culture, and I even took four years of Japanese between high school and college to further enhance my fascination with the culture.
All the time, I would’ve loved to have visited Japan, but when you’re a teenager and have no money or means to make such trips happen, that was more or less of a pipedream that would probably never happen any time soon.
Eventually, I grew out of it, further embraced my true heritage and kind of went on with my life. As the years passed however, I’d watched people all around me eventually make their pilgrimages to the glorious nation. Few have ever said anything bad about it, and generally everyone has nothing but glowing things to say about their trips to Japan. But for whatever reasons, the boyhood dream of visiting glorious Nippon had always eluded me. Just about all of my closest friends had been to Japan at some point and I began to feel like everyone but me had been there.
When I got with mythical wife when she was still mythical girlfriend and she made me realize foreign travel wasn’t as unattainable as I’d been living my life believing, we started going to a bunch of other countries together, as she too had already been to Japan, and it was mostly on the backburner for her. Plus, by this time, I had stated that I wanted my first real foray into Asia to be Korea, holding loyal to my actual heritage, although that notion kind of went down the toilet when a European cruise we took, ported in Kusadasi, Turkey, which is technically on the Asia side of the country. Fail.
Anyway, what I’m getting to is the fact that the time has finally come: I’m going to Japan.
All it took was a global pandemic and the country to close their borders for airfares to the glorious country to drop to make pulling the trigger a no-brainer, especially since I could cash in some SkyMiles to outright cover one of our fares, bringing our overall cost to laughable numbers. But regardless, our tickets have been purchased and our dates set, and soon, I will be fulfilling the 20-year weeaboo boyhood dream of visiting the land of the rising sun.
The funny thing is that now that it’s set, I actually have no earthly idea of what I’d want to do when we get there. I’m not really that super into anime anymore, or am I really that much of a gamer, so those two major nerdy impetuses don’t really come into play. It won’t be baseball season during our trip, so catching an NPB baseball game is out of the question. I don’t even know where to start when it comes to seeking out a New Japan Pro Wrestling show, nor would I really want to put my wife through watching wrestling while on vacation.
Ultimately, whenever I travel abroad, the things I tend to seek out the most are cultural visuals and local food. Everything else is mostly up to chance or some cursory research, although going with people who’ve already been, several times, means my need to really research and plan aren’t really as important.
Regardless, I’m looking forward to this trip immensely. Even though I’ve mostly grown out of my weeb phase, I still admire Japanese culture a good bit, and I can’t wait to walk around the streets of Tokyo and maybe elsewhere, and take in all the sights and the feel of the country. I want to find a restaurant like Midnight Diner on Netflix and eat good food in the middle of the night.
And then I’m going to take notes comparing Japan to Korea and making sure that the deck stays in favor of the Motherland, although I suspect I could be disappointed if I tried to remain as objective as possible.
Whatever though, it’s only been 20 years in the making, but I’m finally going to make it to Japan.