Adventures & Insights

One man's adventures in the physical and intellectual worlds…

Category Archives: Life

It’s Been a Big Year – Change is Still the Only Constant

This may be the last blog I post here – the creativity and desire to express myself that I’ve enjoyed since the beginning of this writing adventure has waned. I can’t pinpoint the reason; it may be a loss of belief in myself,  the medication, or it may just be time for change. Whatever it is, I just didn’t want my previous post to be the last. In case I don’t come back here for a long time, I want to keep the vibe positive.

Change

So what have I been doing all year? I clearly haven’t been blogging. Let me fill you in…

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Challenge Accepted!

For me, the biggest part is to stop over-thinking and over-analyzing. Just write it.

challenge-accepted

A couple of weeks ago my psychologist told me what I’d suspected for years – I have depression.

I’ve always been the kind of person who keeps his personal business to himself; and I have realised that this has led to misunderstandings when people take my shyness or nervousness as stand-offishness or arrogance. Trust me, I do not believe I’m too good to talk to you. Regularly, the opposite thought is going through my head.

Depression is an unusual thing. A friend of mine asked me to help her understand it when I talked to her about it last week. This post is an attempt (one that will probably become a bit erratic at times – apologies in advance) to expand on the confused mess of words I spat out on that occasion. I wasn’t prepared for someone to show patience as I exposed a person who is very different to the personality that is usually seen by most people I know.

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My Japanese Adventures – The Sensational Sakura Safari (Part IX – Kyoto)

The words may be a little confused, but I think the message still gets across.

With the weather being less than favourable on our final morning in Takayama, Dad and I decided that we’d catch an early train to Kyoto. The 2 hour shinkansen ride eased us through green hills and rural pastureland, snaking quietly into more built up neighbourhoods and manufacturing areas as the city of Kyoto welcomed us into her embrace. Knowing that we were far too early to check into our hotel, we opted to investigate the tourist information centre for some further ideas (even though we really didn’t need them!) about how to fill the seven days we’d be spending in the remarkable city. Grabbing a map and a couple of brochures, Dad and I started off in the direction of our accommodation.

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My Japanese Adventures – The Sensational Sakura Safari (Part VIII – Goodbye Takayama)

So far our holiday has been exciting, interesting and fun. However, all true adventures must have an element of disappointment and despair. Today, I will share it with you.

Takayama is famous for a number of things – apples, beef, ramen, sake (DO try the peach sake if you get the chance) and a bi-annual festival of floats. The festival was a primary reason for Takayama being on our itinerary; we planned to be in town for the Spring festival and everything was looking promising. Having visited the float exhibition hall on our first day in Takayama, we were very excited to be seeing the floats on our last day in town. The weather had been perfect and our ryokan hosts had been more than happy to discuss the impending celebration with us.

Takayama Festival Floats

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My Japanese Adventures – The Sensational Sakura Safari (Part VII – Takayama contd.)

For any of you who are joining the story a little late – don’t worry. You can find all the catchup you need right here.

When embracing a different culture, it is important to open yourself up to everything it has to offer. Of course, while I believe that it’s good to step outside your comfort zone on occasion, it’s also important not to stretch yourself too far as you risk losing the appreciation through fear or obligation rather than willing surrender. Some cultural aspects can be intimidating; luckily, Takayama offers one that is almost too kawaii (cute) to bear!

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My Japanese Adventures – The Sensational Sakura Safari (Part VI – Takayama)

Having bid a fond farewell to Kanazawa, Dad and I hopped another shinkansen to Takayama and we were both a little excited. Our accommodation in Takayama would be a ryokan (Japanese Inn) called Honjin Hiranoya, a place I had booked in order to experience the more traditional Japanese side of accommodation. The train eased into the station and we disembarked, heading out the front to meet our transfer and after a short wait, a car arrived  and the friendly driver had us promptly comfortable and on our way. As we entered the ryokan, we were welcomed by our hosts as though we were old friends.

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My Japanese Adventures – The Sensational Sakura Safari (Part V – Goodbye Kanazawa)

If I had to identify an ultimate favourite city or part of this trip I’d have to say that it was Kanazawa. The whole fortnight spent in Japan was amazing (and of course, I fervently urge you to visit Japan at some point in your life!) for numerous reasons. The varied sights and experiences of the country have found comfortable seats in my memory and I hope to be telling tales of my travels for many years to come. Our last day in Kanazawa was not special because of any particular occurrence, but I’ll fill you in on how it went anyway.

A sign in front of this room clearly stated “No Entry”, but when the elderly attendant checked to see that no-one was watching, she ushered Dad in for a quick, cheeky photo op! We may never be allowed entry into Japan again for this…

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My Japanese Adventures – The Sensational Sakura Safari (Part IV – Kanazawa contd.)

When you’re the Japanese city that produces 99% of your country’s gold leaf, is security fairly important to you? I imagine it would be and it seems that the residents of Kanazawa felt the same way. I have no hard facts to back me up on this, but I do have first-hand imaginary evidence. When I say first hand I mean I was there and when I say imaginary I mean that while I’m not necessarily making the following stuff up; I may be letting my mind construe connections that might be more coincidental than actually factual…

I’d want to protect things like this.

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My Japanese Adventures – The Sensational Sakura Safari (Part III – Kanazawa)

Generally I like to celebrate my birthdays with friends and family when I can. This year, having a gathering of familiar faces was a little difficult due to the fact that on the date of my birth, my Dad and I were excitedly exploring Kanazawa, an extremely interesting town on the Sea of Japan. After a four and a half hour shinkansen ride from Hiroshima we dropped our bags off at our hotel and wandered the city, finding our bearings and simply orienting ourselves to our surroundings. After an afternoon of scouting it was decided that dinner was needed to fuel our bellies and combat the cold that was beginning to embrace us.

Of course – when you’re in Japan it’s compulsory to enjoy the country’s famously simple delicacy; guaranteed to fill you up and fight off the chill. We found a place easily enough and made our way inside. It was still reasonably early so my Dad and I were the only customers for the moment. We were greeted by an elderly woman who welcomed us in and bade us to sit, handing us menus and telling us to relax. I already knew what I wanted and soon enough, my birthday feast was placed before me:

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My Japanese Adventures – The Sensational Sakura Safari (Part II – Hiroshima contd.)

Welcome back! If you are just joining me now, the beginning of the story outlining my recent trip to Japan with my Dad can be found here.

The first leg of our Japanese adventure had us heading to Hiroshima, where we would pack two days with all the sightseeing and atmosphere we could before moving on to our next destination. We checked into our backpacker accommodation and after a quick refresh, hit the pavement and headed straight towards our primary point of interest – the Hiroshima Peace Park. We made our way along the streets at a leisurely pace, taking in the new surroundings with curiosity and, at least for me, a slightly heavy heart given the city’s history.

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