Spirited Away

Cue The Dragon Boy/The Bottomless Pit. 🎵

It’s been a week since I returned from my travels around Japan, and already I’m in that “Did I actually go there? Did this actually happen?” phase. I was there for two weeks, traveling around Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kyoto, and Tokyo. I had a few contacts there, but because of the New Year holiday, many of those contacts were abroad and unavailable. The major purpose of the trip was to research for my novel, particularly in and around Hiroshima. However, the immersion of just being in the country for that amount of time was research in itself. I loved knowing that somewhere out there, my characters were walking around me. Maybe I had passed one of them at a crosswalk, maybe one had walked out the restaurant door as I walked in, maybe one was staring at me from the second story window of a house, maybe I was sitting behind them in the Shinkansen. Stories lurk everywhere; they don’t just stay on the street corner you happen to be writing about. They are in the air you breathe, the food that touches your tongue.

This was also the first weeks-long solo trip I had ever embarked on. How to describe it? Empowering, inspiring, emotional, exhausting (in the best way), delicious, and to be honest, sometimes lonely. I’m forever thankful for the wonderful people I met along the way, and for every person who helped me when I made a mistake or didn’t know what to do or where to go. I hope our paths cross again soon!

Here are a few photos from the magic that is Japan:

Fumbling for my camera as we pass over Mt. Fuji
I ate lunch with the Genbaku Dome in Hiroshima every day to respect the fact we are both alive.
Paper cranes clothe A-Bomb memorials, warming, protecting.
The Moat of Hiroshima Castle
And we’ll all float on, alright… in Miyajima
At low tide, the pilgrimage begins
This is Maki, my lovely new friend! She hearts Nabokov. We geeked out over all things books. Here we are at Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto.
I have a tradition of buying a children’s book in the language of the place I’m visiting so I can practice at home.
So thankful to the folks at the Hijikata Tatsumi Archives (Keio University Art Center) for giving me access to these special Butoh dance documents!
The Forest of Resonating Lights at the teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum 
A peek into just one of the many delicious meals I had! おいしい!

 

Now, I just need to keep plowing away at my Japanese language practice, so when I go back, I will be able to speak with my characters when I see them!