When my friend messaged me and asked if I had been to Japan, I replied that I had not.
I have watched Lost in Translation many times, count Memoirs of a Geisha amongst my very favourite books.
I have flicked through an old copy of the Lonely Planet Guide to Japan, hoped and dreamed that one day finances and time would conspire and work in my favour so I could visit.
And occasionally the stars all move around, the world realigns itself, and it works out for you.
People asked me “how was it?..how was Japan..tell me about Japan!” -and I have struggled to find the words to describe our adventures there, to try to convey a little bit of the ‘Japanese’. I have spoken a little of how the past and present peacefully exist hand in hand, how kind the people are, but then told people “you must go yourself to understand it”. And I stand by that.
Japan is a place so unique, it defies description and comparison with what we know.
Perhaps I will never be lucky enough to have an opportunity to visit again-but I know Japan will not fade easily from my memory. I will still walk around Gion at twilight, lanterns lit, the faint sounds of a stringed instrument being plucked from a room. Cherry blossom will still rain down by the light of the lanterns in Ueno. I will still walk in the mist-damp cedar forests of Koyasan and smile at friendly monks. I will still taste green tea ice cream. I will still hear the crows of Tokyo.
I have always said that whenever I leave a place, I take a little place of it with me. There is a particularly special place for my cherished little piece of Japan.
Song from the film ‘Lost in Translation’